In many countries, attacks on healthcare workers are on the increase. Scientific American went as far as to say that ‘there is an epidemic of violence against health care workers’. During 2014, one in three US hospitals reported an increase in violence.
Theft from hospitals is also increasing with more and more valuable equipment and drugs being stolen every year. For most healthcare facilities across the world, security is becoming a big issue. In the past, people respected hospitals as institutions, and for most criminals they were seen as off limits. That is clearly changing and they are now increasingly seen as legitimate targets for criminals.
The healthcare industry is responding to the threat in a range of different ways. Here we take a look at some of them.
Employing more security staff
Hospitals have always employed security personnel, but mainly to patrol the grounds and car parks to cut down on the threat of opportunist thieves. Today, they are employing security personnel to guard staff and other patients.
In the UK and the US security staff are regularly posted in the urgent and emergency areas. The fact that a significant percentage of patients who turn up in those areas have been drinking or taking drugs, especially at weekends, is one reason these staff are needed so much. People who are normally patient and respectable change drastically when they are under the influence. People who are drunk or high carry out the majority of attacks on health workers.
Training workers in de-escalation techniques
Many healthcare providers are now giving their workers additional training to help them to defuse potentially violent situations. This lessens the risk and makes staff feel more confident about continuing to work in the healthcare industry.
Better identification of staff
Sales of customized lanyards for health workers are increasing as hospitals and care homes work to stop people from masquerading as healthcare workers in order to gain access to wards to steal. For most healthcare facilities, shutting off areas and getting everyone to scan in and out of the area is not a viable approach. This is because many areas have to be accessible to members of the public as well as staff and patients.
Instead, healthcare facilities are issuing ID cards that are more complex. These are harder for imposters to replicate, which makes it harder for them to gain access to the wards.
In areas where only certain staff member should have access colour coded ID lanyards are increasingly being used. This approach allows security staff to see at a glance whether people should be in a specific area and deal with them accordingly.
Equipping staff with personal alarms
Facilities are also equipping nurses, doctors, and maintenance personnel with attack alarms. Panic buttons are being installed in doctor’s offices.
Many hospitals are also installing CCTV and monitoring more areas of the hospital in a central security area. This allows support to be sent when a patient attacks and allows the security team to track the perpetrator through the hospital and stop them hurting someone else.
Making sure that staff and all patients are safe must be a priority for all healthcare facilities, don’t you think?