The recent rise in incidents of workplace violence in healthcare facilities invites an urgent discussion of the steps healthcare facilities managers can take to prepare their facilities to handle such crises. While having a security team and system in place is helpful, security strategies that extend beyond the norm are most effective.
By taking a proactive approach to security threats, managers can equip their teams with the resources to combat these situations and minimize the risk to patients and staff. With effective training and safety protocols, managers can create and maintain a safer healing environment for the patients they serve.
Involving the team
Compliance is critical when it comes to security in healthcare facilities. Training for and maintaining compliant practices are essential for deterring violence because missteps create more opportunities for threats to become crises. Managers should train workers to wear their badges visibly, as well as not to prop open doors or hold them for someone coming up behind them, even if this goes against their instincts related to courtesy. These small everyday habits promote a secure environment and ensures only approved associates have access to particular locations or units.
Since security team members cannot be everywhere all the time, managers should implement additional lines of defense by involving all staff members in crisis training to prepare them to respond to and diffuse incidents of workplace violence. Staff must be able to identify threats and understand the importance of reporting suspicious behavior.
Stressing the common phrase, “See something, say something” acts as a reminder of the role each person plays in mitigating the risk of violence. If an associate notices anything that seems suspicious, responding proactively can prevent a situation from becoming violent.
Staying aware of stressors
Healthcare facility workers often interact with people going through emotional times. Patients and guests in hospitals often deal with the aftermath of accidents and injuries, facing unfortunate health news or losing loved ones. Any of these traumatic events can make violent behavior more likely. Coupled with heightened levels of stress due to community health concerns and economic uncertainty, outbursts are unfortunately more common.
Being observant and understanding the world’s current stressors helps prepare facility staff for the impact they can have on patients and visitors. This approach can help team members remain cautious of potential violent situations so they are ready to step in and diffuse them as quickly as possible.
Long-term security protocols
When managers implement new security strategies in response to violent events in the news or in their own facilities, they often assign unrealistic budgets for security, only to cut them back later. A better approach is to develop and implement long-term security protocols, keeping in mind that equipment such as security cameras and entry systems need regular upgrades.
New technology helps managers better ensure the safety of patients the same way that investing in new technologies helps medical teams perform less invasive procedures or treat patients battling cancer more effectively. Managers should carry this same mentality when it comes to investing in the resources that keep patients and visitors safe from security threats.
Security is a part of patient care that ensures healthcare facilities can treat patients in safe healing environments. Managers have the responsibility to implement proactive strategies to ensure security systems are operating effectively, especially in moments of crisis. By doing so, managers maintain readiness to prevent crises before they happen.
Unfortunately, as is the case with pandemics and natural disasters, it is not a question of whether a disaster will occur but when it will occur. While the security team plays a crucial role in preventing violence, it is everyone’s responsibility to stay vigilant and prepared to spot and diffuse a potential threat when it occurs. Effective security solutions are an essential part of running a facility that cares for the community.
Scott Cormier is the vice president of emergency management, environment of care and safety at Medxcel. He specializes in facilities management, safety, environment of care, and emergency management, and he leads the development and implementation of emergency management, general safety and accident-prevention programs for the national network of hospitals that Medxcel serves.