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Top 3 Hospital Access Control Best Practices

hospital security access

In recent years, over 20 million pills went missing from hospitals across America. These are called "diversions" - otherwise known as skimming medications - and are more commonly known as "thefts."

In the first half of 2018 alone, more than 18 million pills were diverted, valued at more than $164 million. Clearly, pill theft at hospitals is a costly epidemic (and not merely in dollars).

We don't like to think about it, but hospitals are far from crime-free. If your job is hospital security, you know exactly what this means.

It means patients might attack nurses or doctors. It means theft by employees and visitors. And, it could mean outside people coming into emergency rooms looking for trouble.

To combat this, you need hospital security access control. An efficient health care facility access management keeps the wrong people out of places where they shouldn't be, protects your employees, visitors, and patients, and helps secure your assets.

Security access control is vital for any hospital. When looking to implement a hospital facility access management system, you need to follow best practices in terms of security measures to make sure you have properly evaluated your needs and can find a system that matches them. The security of your healthcare organization depends on it.

The Costs of Not Having Hospital Access Control Systems

You know how important it is to have proper physical security. Hospitals, with open doors and a spirit of giving, are sadly vulnerable to bad actors. There are all sorts of crime in hospitals, including theft of property and physical assault, from employees, visitors, and even patients.

One way to measure this is the crime rate by bed, which is how the International Association for Healthcare Security and Safety calculates it. Their 2019 Healthcare Crime Survey showed some pretty startling statistics based on one out of a hundred beds:

  • Violent Crime Rate: 1.4
  • Assault Rate: 11.5
  • Disorderly Conduct: 45.2
  • Vandalism: 2.5

Obviously, this doesn't mean that half of all beds had some kind of disorderly conduct. However, a hospital with 300 beds could expect to see about 135 disorderly conducts a year. That's someone needing to call the police once every three days.

By far, the most common type of violent crime - nearly 85% - is directed at employees by patients, visitors, inmates, and other people who are served by the organization. 7% involves domestic violence committed against a patient. Nearly 5% is done by people who have no connection by choosing a hospital as a target of opportunity.

It goes beyond that, of course.

Patients steal $52 million worth of equipment, but the most commonly stolen item is scrubs by employees.

Some of this can be lowered by making the rules clearer to employees, patients, and visitors. However, most thefts and violent crimes don't stop just by making new rules. They can only be stopped by being aware of them and being alerted. And that's where security access control comes in.

Security in Hospitals Best Practices

If you want industry-leading security electronic access control in your hospital, then you need to follow best practices in healthcare security. They are:

1. Inventory Your Facility Security Needs

There will be some areas in your hospital that need more security than others. There will be some places that have lax security where it should be tighter. The first thing you need to do is a comprehensive security inventory. This is where you ask yourself questions such as:

  • Do I have IP cameras for video surveillance where they are needed?
  • Are they set up to alert me when people go places they shouldn't in my medical facilities?
  • Are there alarms for my expensive equipment?
  • Is there access control for rooms with pharmaceutical supplies?
  • Do I have door alarms so I get alerted if people enter areas where they aren't allowed?

The answer to some of these might be yes, or it might be no. Understanding what you need is the first step to getting the right system.

2. Evaluate Your Security Upgrade Requirements

Of course, upgrading your security isn't just a matter of buying the right equipment. Equipment should be installed and, then, monitored by a central system that can deliver alerts to the right parties.

For example, the Fresno VA Hospital has a thoughtful approach to this. They maintain DPMs (Discrete Point Modules), which serve as an interface between the physical alarm points and the emergency paging system.

When windows, doors, or panic buttons are activated or "tripped," the DPM automatically places a call for outside emergency assistance, such as local law enforcement, via an in-house PBX and paging server.

The need for this kind of dynamic operability requires a system that can handle these Discrete Point Modules. Some questions you have to ask regarding this are:

  • Do you have legacy equipment to integrate?
  • What are the protocol standards you need to meet?
  • Will you be able to combine legacy and new equipment and still communicate with your master control?
  • What security access and remote monitoring equipment do you need to purchase to be up to local, state, and federal standards?

To make sure you have good answers to these questions, you need to find the right partner.

3. Choose the Right Security Access Control System

This is where it gets tricky. You want to make sure that your access control system can do many things. This includes integrating with your current monitoring system, setting up monitoring logs to help with audits and security review, and keeping the wrong people out while still letting the right ones in.

To do this, you need a partner who understands what hospitals need in regard to security solutions for the healthcare industry. Your partner should be able to:

  • Assist you with your inventory audit and assessment
  • Show you a custom application diagram
  • Have all the needed equipment, including alarm masters, entry control units, access proxy readers and keypads, and electronic door control
  • Have best-in-class training
  • Give you the life cycle support you need

You're an expert in your hospital and your patients' health. You want a partner who is an expert in security access control technologies.

Protect Your Healthcare Facility by Upgrading Your System

Your hospital and health care facility has an important mission. You're dedicated to your patients. You're dedicated to improving health care. You deserve a security system that protects your mission.

A security access control solution is more than a system of alarms. It offers peace of mind.

It presents the ability to protect your patients, visitors, and staff - giving your nurses, doctors, and therapists the freedom to do their job. It's vital to protect your economic health and keep medical equipment and pharmaceuticals where they belong: in your facility.

You need a partner who respects your mission and can give you the security access control you deserve.

DPS Telecom has the experience and expertise to help hospitals monitor what matters most. Our technicians can work with you to install remote monitoring systems with easy-to-use interfaces for secure access control. Reach out and get a quote today!


Image courtesy Shutterstock

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