Meeting the Urgent Security Needs of Hospitals

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Healthcare security is a growing concern worldwide, and with good reason. According to a recent study, crime at U.S. healthcare facilities has grown by 37 percent from 2010 to 2012. Violence against doctors, nurses and other hospital staff is especially troubling and, in many cities, appears to be on the rise due in part to drug and alcohol use, as well as emotional and psychological conditions.

Although most hospitals train all employees on ways to de-escalate violent situations, they can only do so much while also juggling the demands of their high-stress jobs. At some hospitals, nurses say hospital management won’t acknowledge the rise in violence. As a result, organizations such as the Massachusetts Nurses Association have collaborated to ask for improved hospital security measures. Meanwhile, other hospitals are also taking action to stem the rising number of incidents.

One interesting example is a hospital in Brighton, England, which is testing the use of portable security cameras worn by hospital personnel to record and deter incidents of violence. Officials hope that the body-worn cameras will complement the hospital’s traditional surveillance cameras and help provide video evidence for investigations. Similar projects in the U.K. have led to a 2,000 percent increase in the number of prosecutions within the last year.

Although portable security cameras would provide a strong crime deterrent in many cases, individual body-worn cameras are likely cost-prohibitively expensive for many healthcare institutions. However, by leveraging their existing network of video surveillance cameras, in conjunction with advanced situation management software, hospitals can help prevent and respond to violent incidents in real-time.

Large hospitals – especially those with multiple facilities and campuses – can greatly benefit from situation management technology that combines information from multiple sources, such as video surveillance and access control, to enable security officials to better track and respond to violent incidents. They can also watch for the tell-tale signs of an impending situation, such as an intoxicated patient or a large group of people gathering in one area, and potentially resolve the situation before anyone is injured.

In addition, situation management technology enables operators to increase their efficiency so they can spend more time focusing on other safety demands, such as patient and facility security. And, because the software offers predefined security procedures, training is streamlined and incident response can be more swift and effective.

In the hospital environment, doctor, nurse and employee safety should be as close to guaranteed as possible. Otherwise, these brave individuals will be unable to do their best work and, in the end, all healthcare patients and their families will suffer along with them.

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