Resource Center

article / February 14, 2023

What is hospital security?

It’s hard to imagine any one location with more immediate importance to the community than a hospital. It’s a part of our modern social contract: When you’re hurt, sick, or otherwise physically or mentally suffering, you know you can count on the services of your local hospital to ease your pain and help you on the path to recovery. So what does hospital security do? It makes sure each part of that process is as safe as possible, both with dedicated security employees and by establishing standards for each member of the organization to follow.

Despite their beneficent nature, hospitals are not immune to threats within their walls. In fact, healthcare workers in the US are five times more likely to be victims of workplace violence compared to workers in other fields. The field of hospital security exists to ensure hospitals are able to effectively continue their life-saving, community-serving work while also protecting all of their staff and patients. This article will introduce how hospital security professionals approach their task, the goals they pursue, and the technology they use to help make this essential workplace safer.

What Does Hospital Security Do?

Hospital security is a field of private security that ensures the safe and orderly operation of large healthcare facilities. Anyone who has spent time in such a facility — whether as a practitioner making the rounds, a patient receiving care, a visitor comforting their loved one, or beyond — can appreciate at least some of the massively interwoven logistics behind the operation of a modern hospital.

While it’s easy to think of a hospital security management plan as just another layer in that complex operation, security professionals know that kind of mindset is likely to lead to interventions that are too little, too late.

3 Practical Goals for a Hospital Security Management Plan

The value of effective hospital security is clear: Violence against nurses and other healthcare workers is abhorrent on its face, but it also further contributes to increased employee burnout, turnover, and in turn poorer outcomes for patients who have fewer experienced staff to help them. But even the smallest regional hospitals are complex operations with limited budgets and competing priorities. Here are three goals to pursue to make the most of your security resources, whatever they may be.

Make Security a Proactive Investment

Do not allow your organization’s perspective on security to become one of simple cost/benefit analysis. The impact that proactive security has on an organization goes much further than quarterly incident rates. The most powerful step you can take toward setting your hospital security management plan on a better path is to make sure you have the right leadership at its fore. Leaders should know common practices in the healthcare industry as well as what measures are mandated by regulatory bodies, and they should be ready and eager to pursue security investments that have the most chance of making a positive impact for employees and patients.

Seek Preparedness, Not Just Prevention

Even beyond the obvious concern for another human being’s safety, healthcare employees that come to work in fear for life and limb will inevitably be less effective at their roles. Not only is simply stationing more security staff around the premises or upping patrols expensive, it will never be possible to have them on hand for every potentially risky situation. Instead, hospital security measures should include disseminating de-escalation procedures across departments as well as pushing for security-minded approaches to practical concerns, such as how building plans and the positioning of furniture in a room can contribute to better incident outcomes.

Cultivate Collaboration

While rethinking your hospital’s approach to security may cause organizational friction as people adapt, it’s essential to not allow an “us versus them” mentality to develop. Security is at its most effective when it’s fully aligned with the mission and values of the organization it protects. Seek input from other departments and build enough flexibility into your organizational standards to allow individual units that may need more help in the moment to receive it. Maintaining a collaborative approach, from planning through execution to review of your new security standards, will make for a more effective working relationship with the entire hospital.

The Role of Technology in Hospital Security

Though recent years have seen a rise in workplace violence against healthcare workers, it hasn’t all been discouraging news. The ongoing development of security technology has given both public and private security leaders new methods to identify potential threats as well as to deal with them on the scene.

Though de-escalation should always be the first tool in any employee’s safety toolkit, panic devices allow staff to secretly and safely signal for help when they need it most; tools such as TASER energy weapons allow for safer outcomes for both staff and potential assailants. Meanwhile, cameras — both worn by security officers and installed throughout the premises — allow for a detailed review of incident response to improve procedures for next time.

If you’d like to learn more about the role an up-to-date and cohesive technology stack can play in improving preparedness as well as response across your hospital facility, schedule a call with an Axon professional today.