To ensure the safety and wellbeing of patients, staff and visitors, stringent security protocols are in place in all hospitals. The health service's commitment to providing a safe environment free from inappropriate behaviour, such as aggression and violence, forms the basis for these measures.
Among the security measures in place are CCTV cameras, alarms for employees and electronic access control systems on the doors - some hospitals go one step further and employ dedicated security staff.
To ensure they are properly qualified and of good character, all employees are subject to various checks before they can start work within a hospital environment. While they are at work, they are also required to display an ID badge at all times.
CCTV cameras must strike a fine balance between protecting the patients, staff and visitors, while at the same time taking their privacy and dignity seriously. Carefully positioned (with no covert cameras) so that they are recording 24 hours a day, they can be placed around the hospital, the grounds and car parks. Monitored from a control room to increase personal safety, they reduce the fear of crime and combat incidents of violence and aggression towards staff members.
For people working in hospitals, the threat of a personal attack is ever-present. To reduce the dangers of verbal and physical abuse, it's important to safeguard against risks by providing staff with personal panic alarms - to help protect against aggressive visitors, disturbed patients and intruders.
Visitors to the hospital must also adhere to rules, such as respecting the visiting hours and the patients' rest periods. If they wish to take a gift to a patient, some hospitals have rules regarding the items that can and cannot be taken onto the premises.
Food safety rules are in place in all hospitals to prevent contamination and food poisoning - the majority of hospitals don't allow visitors to bring in food that requires heating, for example. Visitors must always be polite to employees, patients and other visitors or face being told to leave the hospital.
Not all hospital security involves the risks of attack or intruders - security protocols are also in place to protect against infections. Staff must take the relevant precautions. Hospital patients are at risk of picking up wound, lung, bloodstream and urinary tract infections during a stay as an in-patient - these are known as healthcare-associated infections.
Measures are taken to reduce the risks, such as advising patients to always wash their hands, especially after using the bathroom. Patients are advised to tell the nurse if they feel their dressings are not properly attached to any wounds, if the site around the needle of their IV drip isn't dry and clean, or if any tubes and catheters feel uncomfortable or have moved.
Patients may be instructed to do deep breathing exercises to reduce the risks of a chest infection. They must also ask friends and relatives who are unwell with coughs and colds (or those who feel generally ill) not to visit, due to the risks of spreading any infection to vulnerable patients.
Measures are also taken to avoid the risks of patients falling. They are advised to keep personal belongings within easy reach, so they don't need to stand and walk across the room to get them, and to ask for help when going to use the bathroom if they feel unsteady.
High risk patients
Some facilities which house patients considered high risk, such as psychiatric units, will have extra security measures in place to protect the patients and staff. For example, protocols are put in place to identify and manage the high risk patients, such as locking them in their rooms at night for their own safety.
The admission facility will require a search of new patients, while maintaining their dignity and privacy. A responsible clinician is also appointed to provide cover during non-working hours, or if the regular clinician is on leave, for example.
Codes of practice are put in place to protect patients' confidentiality. The legislation was updated in July 2016 to set out what NHS employees must do to manage records correctly. Essential information about patients should be treated respectfully and confidentially and should be shared by medical care staff only when this is necessary to look after the patients.
A patient's rights to object to their personal, confidential information being shared should be respected. Any information being shared for the community's benefit should be anonymous, so that patients can't be identified. All healthcare organisations must have procedures in place to ensure adherence to the confidentiality legislation.
ISGUS UK is a leading provider of healthcare solutions, including access control security at every door, which can be customised to meet individual needs. It can be used in conjunction with our healthcare software solutions to ensure effective management within the healthcare sector. Please contact us for further details.