Concerns over the safety of hospital staff and their patients are growing as rapidly as the healthcare sector is booming. Hospitals are now more accessible than ever before, consequently causing a spark in drug and alcohol-related violence. These instances have ultimately tarnished the ‘safe-haven’ nature of hospitals, and solutions to improve hospital security beyond the use of CCTV and electronically operated doorways and alarms need to be sought immediately.
The well-being of hospital staff has been a particular talking point following the shooting of a patient in an emergency ward at Nepean Hospital in January. Nurses union official Judith Kiejda explained that the increase in substance-influenced patients had left nurses feeling unsafe and vulnerable, driving some to pay for defence training. The victim of the shooting, security guard Barry Jennings expressed how hospital staff had lost confidence in the current security model and had hoped for greater involvement from police during such incidents.
A recent survey by the Health Services Union identified how hospital workers feel they are put in a compromised position due to their inability to legally search through the bags of their patients for possible weapons. In addition, many workers feel that staff have been inadequately trained to respond to volatile patients, and that the laws unfairly prevent guards from detaining or restraining violent patients.
Possible solutions to improve security in hospitals
- Challenging the State Government to support legislation that would introduce health-specific powers of restraint and detention under limited circumstances.
- Ensuring each hospital has a seclusion room for volatile patients.
- Issuing staff members a 24-hour swipe access card to some parts of the hospital, and a visitor call button for use after hours
The Improving Hospital Safety & Security conference, taking place in April 2017 in Sydney, will focus on how to drive a clinically led approach to reducing occupational violence & aggression. Book soon to secure Early Bird rates!