“It is important to note that there are thousands of healthcare facilities in the U.S. and Canada alone which did not participate,” said Pryse. “Although the participating facilities are cloaked in anonymity, many facilities often do not participate in the crime survey due to concerns regarding potential liability and negative marketing.”
To help curb some of these incidents, Porto recommends that healthcare facilities be more vigilant when it comes to surveillance of people on their premises, the use of restraints on patients who may be a high-risk for being violent, the use of metal detectors, and the training security personnel in de-escalation tactics.
“I think this data is very useful in helping (healthcare organizations) analyze their own facilities,” Porto said. “I think it shows that perhaps hospital administrators are not aware of or taking into account the need to hire more security professionals. If you reduce the number of metal detectors that have been clearly shown to reduce incidents of violence by identifying people carrying weapons, then you’re going to increase the likelihood of violent incidents occurring.”
Despite these alarming statistics, Pryse pointed out that vast majority of hospitals and clinics are still safe. However, she said this data reinforces the need for healthcare facilities to invest in security.
“It is very important for the public to know that overall, hospitals and healthcare facilities are still safe places to be. Hospitals do, however, reflect the activities of a society at large, albeit a more violent one today. It is with this knowledge now, more than ever before healthcare organizations must invest in security and safety,” Pryse explained. “In addition to performing in-depth security assessments (in order to detect some initial security gaps), membership and alignment with healthcare security organizations (such as IAHSS) is extremely important. Membership and participation with an organization like IAHSS provides industry guidelines, officer and supervisor training programs, mitigation strategies, current trending research, and legal and regulatory information for healthcare security among other things.