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article / March 8, 2023

Hospital security cameras: 4 things to know before you buy

Hospitals are among our most heavily trafficked public institutions and are also our most vulnerable. Hospital workers are five times more likely to experience workplace violence than other workers. Hospitals are public spaces open to visitors and patients but are also subject to strict privacy regulations and standards. As such, the security needs of hospitals must take a bewildering array of needs into account.

Hospital security cameras are for more than just security. They are often relied upon to ensure policy adherence, provide legal protection, prevent malpractice, and monitor patients. With cameras fulfilling such a multi-faceted role, ensuring you have the best hospital security cameras is a critical part of a total hospital security solution.

Privacy Concerns

Due to being public spaces, hospitals are allowed to use hospital security cameras, but hospital administrators must take strict care to not expose private information or otherwise misuse their hospital security cameras.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, mandates strict controls over private health information (PHI). Cameras must not be placed in such a way that PHI will be captured on camera, or, if unavoidable, administrators must ensure that only authorized personnel have access to camera feeds and recordings.

Uses for Hospital Security Cameras

Hospital security cameras are an essential part of an overall hospital security system, but they provide more than security. Hospital security cameras can be used in multiple spaces for multiple purposes.

Exterior Cameras

External security cameras can be placed at hospital entrances and exits and inside parking garages to ensure the safety of those coming and going and to provide a record of visitors. Additionally, exterior cameras provide a deterrent to criminal activity and can prevent violent individuals from entering the facility.

Public Spaces

The fact that hospitals are essentially public places is often overlooked. The number of patients seen by an average hospital has been on the rise, but generally speaking, hospitals see approximately 25,000 patients per day. Adding this to the number of visitors, vendors, and others, the number of people entering a typical hospital on a typical day can be staggering. Cameras allow a small number of security officers to monitor the large amount of traffic in these spaces.

Body-Worn Cameras

Body-worn cameras are proven to reduce the frequency of incidents and can serve as a deterrent against violence directed at the individuals wearing them. A body-worn camera can also allow hospital staff to review incidents accurately after the fact to better inform ensuing security decisions. Footage from body-worn cameras can also be used as evidence in prosecuting violent offenders.

Patient Room Cameras

Hospital security cameras in patient rooms provide round-the-clock monitoring of patients in cases of critical care and can aid in detecting a code blue. Additionally, in-room cameras help ensure proper healthcare practices and facility protocols are being upheld.

Sensitive Areas

Sensitive areas, such as pharmacies, records rooms, and equipment storage areas, can be secured with cameras to help ensure that only authorized personnel have access and to provide a record of who has accessed these areas and when.

Features of Hospital Security Cameras

Selecting the best cameras for your particular facility will depend on a number of factors, including budget, intended purpose, areas of deployment, and more. Here are some of the most important features you should consider when purchasing hospital security cameras.

Video Resolution

Video resolution is the number of pixels captured in a video image and is a major determining factor in how crisp an image your camera can capture. Resolution is expressed as the number of pixels in an image, either as a total number (2MP — meaning 2 million pixels) or as the number of pixels that appear horizontally and vertically (1920x1080).

Security cameras come in resolutions ranging from 1080p (2MP) to 4k (8MP), with a few resolutions in-between. Generally speaking, the higher the resolution, the better or clearer the image, but high-resolution cameras may not be the best option for all use cases.

In outdoor settings, where light and shadow will vary depending on the time of day, a higher-resolution camera will provide more clarity in different situations and will allow you to pick up finer details, such as the contours of a face or the numbers on a license plate. However, in smaller rooms or in areas that are brightly lit, a lower-resolution camera can be just as effective.

Audio Recording

Often overlooked when considering video cameras is audio. The quality of the audio captured by a security camera can be just as important as the quality of the video, especially in situations when you want to monitor conversations or discreet sounds, like a patient’s breathing. Some camera systems are even activated by sound, turning on or providing an alert when any sound is detected, indicating a person has entered an area or alerting staff to signs of a disturbance.

Gunfire Detection

Companies like Alibi provide gunfire detection software that utilizes artificial intelligence (AI) to detect the sounds of gunfire through security cameras. This can be a useful feature to help immediately alert security officers in the event of a code silver.


One thing to consider when purchasing hospital security cameras is how the image will be transmitted from the camera to the viewing station or recorder. Many security cameras are hard-wired with dedicated cables stretching from each camera to a security station. This provides a stable connection and can ensure that you are getting the best possible image or that your cameras will continue to work if your network goes down.

You can, however, utilize existing computer networking or Wi-Fi to connect security cameras, and many modern security camera systems utilize the cloud.

Night Vision

Low light detection, or “night vision,” uses infrared lights to “illuminate” dark areas. Cameras with night vision are useful for outdoor deployments, in poorly lit areas like parking garages, or when you want to ensure you maintain a clear image even when the lights are out.

A network of both mounted and body-worn cameras can have an enormous impact on hospital safety for patients, staff, and public alike.