Hospital Security: Doctor’s Orders

Because a medical campus is typically an open environment designed to accommodate patients, visitors, employees, practitioners, and staff, many hospitals face the challenge of balancing the need to present a friendly and welcoming property with the right combination of security measures to ensure safety. They do not want to create a security climate where people are reluctant to visit the facility because they are uncomfortable or afraid. In addition to the basic fundamentals of security—physical, technical, personnel, and procedural—administrators need to develop an understanding and renewed focus on the security disciplines unique to hospitals and medical facilities.

Are Your Operations a Best-Practice?

The single most effective and proficient way to protect your hospital’s people, assets, and operations is a systematic, step-by-step, and holistic process that begins by supporting the security department. Our recommended program development reflects a strategic approach based on industry best practices in hospital security operations. And one of the first tasks is to benchmark your hospital with nationally recognized healthcare security design and risk mitigation strategies currently being implemented by hospitals of comparable size and geographical location.

An Ounce of Prevention Is Worth a Pound of Cure

A prevention-oriented methodology results in a higher level of situational awareness and emergency readiness. Prevention begins in the early stages of planning and continues daily through the acquisition of real-time insight into the operations of the hospital. Preventative measures need to be scalable, flexible, and adaptable based on dynamics such as emerging threats, actionable intelligence, or changes to the environment. This process can only be attained by ongoing coordination with hospital staff; adherence to security best practices; compliance with regulatory standards; and leveraging technology to mitigate risk.

Give Them a Taste of Their Own Medicine

Based on my own experience of assessing medical facilities, your two most critical points to address are visitor access control and patient management. Starting with visitors, you need to establish a structured management protocol for all guests, including family, friends, and part-time employees. A database with individual identifiers should be used to record visits and screen for prohibited visitors. Technology can be used to monitor and manage patients, especially infants and seniors. Because many hospitals are concerned with baby abductions and elderly people wandering away from the facility, a tracking device could alert security and trace their location if the patient attempts to leave the hospital without authorization.

Take Two Aspirin and Call Me in the Morning 

Another security issue distinctive to healthcare properties is that transients will sometimes seek shelter inside the hospital. Some facilities are more tolerant than others and allow destitute people a safe haven, usually during the colder months. Although this is an honorable gesture, the result can be an increase in thefts and disruption in efficiency and workflow. Hospitals can maintain their level of safety and control if they provide some food or drink and point these visitors to the nearest homeless shelter.

While your security plan should address necessities such as alarm systems and security guards, you must also promote policies and procedures that control access and manage risk—in order to provide a best-practiced based security environment.

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