A Smarter, Safer Approach to Hospital Security

hospital security
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Zach Jory, Axon Enterprise

Hospital security is tricky. A medical center should be a place of healing and provide a welcoming atmosphere, but the reality is that hospitals and medical campuses create environments that are difficult to monitor and secure and regularly experience violence. Hospital security teams have a tough job – provide a safe environment, while largely remaining invisible to patients and staff.

These security teams need to take a highly professional and courteous approach to interacting with patients, staff and the public, with a focus on de-escalating and avoiding use of force. What’s equally important is being able to provide transparency into any incidents that do occur. In health care settings, it’s critical to provide security staff with tools that allow them to remain effectively invisible to patients and visitors but able to quickly and effectively intercede and de-escalate any tense situations. 

Hospitals and health care facilities are institutions of care and healing, and it’s important to provide a safe and nonthreatening environment to patients and clients. But as many health care security leaders know, occupations like nursing face some of the highest assault rates of any profession that exists. Nurses are more likely to be assaulted than police officers, with 76% of active nurses experiencing some form of assault in a year. With this in mind, health care security must provide tools and means of de-escalation that go largely unnoticed but are extremely effective when called for. 

Risk management is of the utmost importance in health care security. De-escalation, transparency and efficiency are the methods by which health care security organizations can most effectively manage risk. 

  • De-escalation – Avoiding use of force is critical in keeping officers, staff and patients safe and ensuring you do not face costly lawsuits or investigations. 
  • Transparency – Dispelling or verifying claims from any incidents quickly and with certainty is critical to eliminating risk form costly investigations and lawsuits.
  • Efficiency – A smart incident management platform improves operations efficiency and frees up time that can be better spent serving and protecting patients, staff and visitors. 

Modern hospital security leaders are equipping officers with tools that enable them to effectively respond to any critical incidents and also provide complete transparency into responses to de-risk the business and continually improve officer skills and professionalism. 

Security solutions like body-worn cameras, conductive energy weapons and incident management software are proven technologies that directly support and improve transparency, de-escalation and safety. These solutions offer enhanced situational awareness and transparency, strong means of de-escalation and an easy way to manage and share data to mitigate threats and risks within hospital facilities and networks. Leveraging new technology, hospitals are seeing dramatic improvements to security, access control and monitoring, patient service and loss prevention. 

Body-Worn Cameras

Security professionals operate in a charged and litigious environment. The wrong move can put organizations or individuals in the headlines for all the wrong reasons. You need training and tools that allow your security officers to effectively manage tense situations without use of force and data that quickly allows you to dismiss false claims. You must be able to provide a look into situations as they happened and easily share that information with law enforcement agencies or the public to dispel any false claims. 

Body-worn cameras allow hospitals, clinics and other medical facilities to greatly increase the effectiveness of video coverage provided by fixed cameras, with the addition of a mobile, first-person point of view camera option that provides better coverage, rapid deployment, instant scalability and audio recording. Furthermore, the livestreaming capabilities available on some body-worn cameras provide a means for supervisors to monitor and triage tense situations even if they are not physically present. This situational awareness can also act as a force multiplier, enabling the most appropriate response in terms of whether or not to dispatch backup. GPS-enabled hardware allows management operating as incident commanders to ensure proper resource positioning and adapt as needed, whether for an emergency or as a simple need to shift deployment of personnel based on staffing or facility capacity. 
Equally advantageous is the ability to monitor patient, visitor and staff interactions for the purposes of loss prevention, training or providing indisputable evidence. 

The presence of body cameras drives better behavior in the majority of situations, as people behave better when they know they are being recorded. In instances where the presence of a body camera is not enough, a conducted energy weapon is often a good intermediate force option in health care settings. 

Conducted Energy Weapons

In critical situations that require use of force, conducted energy weapons (CEWs) provide a less lethal option that can keep guards, staff and patients safe without the danger of firearms. In many situations, simply presenting a CEW has proven to be an effective enough de-escalation tactic that weapon deployment is not needed. If use of force is necessary, CEWs are by far the safest use of force option in confined quarters, where the use of OC spray or firearms has a high potential to inflict damage beyond the intended target. 

CEWs have a long and proven track record. CEWs have had over 4 million field uses and are the most studied intermediate use of force option in existence, with over 800 studies affirming the safety and efficacy of the weapon. Studies show that the use of CEWs:

Body cameras and conducted energy weapons provide a strong pairing that enable health care security to de-escalate almost any situation and capture the exact truth of what happened. Another critical consideration for security operations is how to effectively ingest, store, manage and share all the data captured by these connected devices. 

Incident Management Software

A dependable incident management platform is the linchpin that enables modern health care security organizations to more safely and effectively respond to threatening situations. Maybe more importantly, it is how innovative organizations are driving smarter and more efficient operations. Modern, cloud-based incident management software automates the ingestion and storage of data and streamlines managing and sharing, which is powerful because it makes it easy to review data for training, performance and risk mitigation purposes and makes it easy to recall and share any critical incidents to provide the necessary level of transparency to de-risk operations and avoid costly claims and litigation. Health care security operations that are correctly leveraging incident and data management software are reducing the amount of time they spend on data gathering and operations tasks so they can spend more time serving staff, patients and visitors. 

Zach Jory is the director of Axon Enterprise marketing. He has worked in the software industry for over a decade and is keenly focused on how software and technology is transforming the way every industry operates. At Axon Enterprise, Jory is dedicated to helping companies in security and other commercial segments innovate the way they provide security and transparency to protect their people, customers and assets.

The views and opinions expressed in guest posts and/or profiles are those of the authors or sources and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Security Industry Association.