Nurturing a healthcare environment that advocates for safety and security is critical to the organization’s overall success. A wide segment of society crosses paths with healthcare workers every day, creating an often challenging environment that requires constant security awareness.
Security officers are the first line of defense to help ensure a safe healthcare environment, however, the culture of the organization needs to include a strong emphasis on security and encourage the involvement of all personnel, including nurses, doctors and administrative workers. When informed and educated about proper security procedures, hospital staff can take ownership in their personal safety and security. Areas to consider when developing a culture of security include:
Disorderly Patient Protocol – It is important to establish a clear code of conduct for security and other personnel to address patients or visitors who may be under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or emotional distress, and who are acting erratically and aggressively.
Physical Security – While security officers are safety stewards, other employees may not be aware of their own role. Are they holding doors open or accepting packages from individuals they do not know? These courteous acts could create risks. Are nurses leaving their purses in unlocked areas? Theft can happen anywhere that opportunity knocks.
Parking Lot Security – Criminals look for easy opportunities. Medical staff and patients can avoid being an easy target by keeping packages and valuables out of sight and locking windows and doors.
Staff Communications – Regular communication with all employees is important in maintaining a secure workplace. Share safety and security policies, and create forums where employees can ask questions and make suggestions.
Reporting – The expectation that suspicious incidents or security breaches be reported should be made clear. In some hospitals, it can be helpful to offer a hotline for employees to anonymously report suspicious incidents or inappropriate conduct.
The healthcare organization’s message about safety must be consistent, continuous and committed to a sustained culture of safety.
Bukowski is the vice president of healthcare, AlliedBarton Security Services.
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