It’s one thing to have policies and procedures in place for high security risk occurrences and theoretically meet the security standards, yet another to be practically in compliance with them and effectively respond to emergencies.
That is why Join Commission requires hospital to plan and conduct regular tests for various emergency situations in healthcare facilities, such as natural disasters ( we all remember Hurricane Sandy or the tornado that roared through St.John Mercy Hospital the all too well), violence occurrences (active shooters, gangs, staff on staff, staff on patients, family on patients, patients on patients, family on staff etc), sudden influx of patients, abductions, etc.
One of the most effective ways to assure that your healthcare facility is prepared for these emergencies is to focus on security audits and compliance assessments: practice, analyze the results, and plan for improvements.
To successfully begin the audit process at your hospital, The Campus Safety Magazine suggests to follow these four aspects of access control:
- Lockdown Readiness in many instances hospital must be able to quickly and efficiently lockdown corridors, wings, or the entire hospital. Unfortunately, the results of a healthcare security survey conducted a few years back, showed results way below the desired range. 20% of the hospitals had a lockdown time of over 15 minutes and 7% of them weren’t able to complete the lockdown. Naturally, the larger the hospital, the longer the lockdown time. The survey emphasized, that in order to improve the emergency preparedness, hospitals need to drastically reduce the lockdown time.
- Creating a Lockdown System Using the latest technology in in security hardware is no less essential than planning and practice. Among currently the best options we have:hardwired electronic locks connected to the network for easy and rapid centralized management;or a wireless electronic locking system that, in addition to enhanced security of the hardwired system, provides flexibility and simplicity of installation (minimal disruption to patients and easy integration with other electronic hardware). For a long time, there had been one lockdown shortcoming of the wireless technologies – the communications delay. However, with the newer modular wireless locks, 10 seconds is the longest it will take to initiate the lockdown.
- Control Access to Better Facilitate Lockdowns – protecting patients privacy (rooms and records) remains crucial even during an emergency, such as patients influx. Its is therefore imperative to maintain perimeter access and control intra-facility movement. The latest advances in facility security have been shown to go a long way in achieving that. An access control system with strategically placed readers and electronic locking solutions not only enables the instantaneous lockdown of a facility, but also provides administrators with the autonomy to control traffic by denying access to the perimeter or any intra-facility area. Additionally, there are now more options of integrating new solutions into your existing system.
- Credential Management – In addition to the credential plan for employees, each hospital needs a plan for banding and controlling the movement of prospective volunteers, whoa re major participants in emergencies. An access control system allows you to quickly add, delete or edit credentials of employees and temporary workers, as well as set up temporary access codes for contractors and volunteers. A wide range of credentials may be used: from the magnetic stripe and proximity cards to the smart card solutions.
More details in the ‘Conducting Access Control Security Audits’ article in the Campus Safety Magazine.