How Security Plays a Pivotal Role to Protect Patients in Behavioral Health Facilities

By John Krumme, CPP

Security in healthcare settings is not a new concept. Many hospitals today boast a robust security system that includes hundreds of surveillance cameras and an access control system to monitor activity and ensure that only authorized individuals gain access to sensitive areas. However, sometimes authorized individuals can pose the greatest threat.

Hospitals administrators are now looking to reduce liability and implement new safety measures to greatly improve patient safety, especially as it relates to suicide prevention to enhance security to patients who are most at risk.

With new patient safety recommendations in behavioral health settings from the Joint Commission, security systems integrators have taken an active role in the direct safety of patients in these treatment facilities and hospital wings. This includes educating hospital security directors about available solutions and then installing and implementing these systems.

Beyond surveillance, which has been used to monitor secluded patients for erratic or unsafe behavior, healthcare facilities are turning to ligature resistant products to minimize the risk that a patient will use the door hardware, a grab bar or hinges to inflict self-harm.

In addition to monitoring behavior, administrators can choose to install pressure switches on doors to set off an alarm if it detects a potential safety issue, such as a towel or a sheet hanging off the top of the door, indicating suicidal ideation. This technology can also be used to alert staff if someone tries to barricade the door with an item.

Just like a hospital’s surveillance systems, these products are being installed by trained security systems integrators as these devices are often an extension of a hospital’s existing security and safety program.

Patient safety has come a long way since the days when the main concern was about patients falling out of a hospital bed.  Today hospitals are going to great lengths to implement security systems that support not just physical, but mental health as well.