In the ever-changing world of healthcare security, one big problem has been forcing its way to the surface. Security in healthcare facilities tends to be reactive, rather than proactive. In healthcare, violent incidents sometimes have to happen before procedure can change.
From January 2012 to December 2013 the International Committee of the Red Cross conducted a study of Violent Incidents Against Healthcare Workers. What the study found was that during that time period there were 1,809 individual incidents ranging in severity from harassment to the death of the healthcare worker, and that number is expected to rise in 2014.
Security in the 21st century is not unlike a revolving door. A threat to security is detected, and the healthcare community responds, just in time for a new threat to be uncovered. This cycle continues today, with the healthcare industry reacting to threats, rather than proactively eliminating them. According to Caroline Ramsey-Hamilton of, the reactive security policy is based on law-enforcement’s model—and it’s just not working.
Why Isn’t the Old Model Working?
Ramsey-Hamilton believes it is because of several factors. The first is that the number of people insured by Medicare is rapidly increasing. This is due in part to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. As billing and reimbursement requirements become more complicated as the result of the Affordable Care Act, budgets must be cut, and security is the first to go. In an environment in which security should be constantly increasing, it is instead being cut. The second part is the increased traffic that emergency rooms around the country are experiencing. Emergency rooms are one of the most dangerous places in the hospital, because they are the least controlled—and therefore they have a higher likelihood of experiencing a security incident.
As this trend of violence is receiving attention, healthcare organizations are recognizing the need to be proactive in their approach to security. Ramsey-Hamilton points out that new security models are taking into account statistical data about whether or not an incident is likely to happen, and what can be done to prevent those that are likely. The new models can instantly tailor the data to the type of building, be it a hospital, clinic, or prompt-care facility.
Ramsey-Hamilton has some excellent suggestions for implementing a proactive security policy:

Audit Security Controls: OSHA and The Joint Commission require that security controls are reviewed at least annually. However, it is preferable that they be reviewed quarterly. Security concerns change so quickly that the more frequently controls can be audited, the more incidents can be prevented.
Work Together: The security team needs to work closely with other departments within the facility including human resources, emergency management and safety management. For instance, preparing for disasters may be in the purview of emergency management, but since the disasters can be both natural (i.e., storms) and man-made (i.e., active shooters), the experience of both security and emergency management are necessary to handle the emergency situations.
Take Advantage of Technology: Old security procedures used paper security logs and incidents reports. Utilizing technology decreases the time it takes to complete records, as well as the time necessary to compile data to be used by management in identifying trends and amending procedures.

Frequent audits, fast implementation of new procedures, and the expansion of the role of security within the organization are all part of ensuring that the healthcare facility stays safe. Healthcare changes every day, usually for the better. New innovations allow more people than ever before to live healthier and longer.  Shouldn’t security in healthcare work the same?Learn how LDS Hospital – Intermountain Healthcare, Ellis Hospital and The Nebraska Medical Center utilized vendor credentialing to improve patient safety. Download these 3 Case Studies for improving patient safety.

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