Controlling utility/cabinet lock access in a hospital ranges from convenience to required by code. Cabinets hold supplies, medicines, housekeeping and paperwork. Hospitals have medications, bandaging materials, needles, surgical instruments, fixed and portable testing equipment, carts and cabinets. Hospitals store vast quantities of medical records. They maintain a significant amount of patient information. Every hospital must follow the Health Information Privacy (HIPAA) rules.
Sometimes the walls are lined with locked cabinets, which can contain personnel, physician and patient information. Some hospitals offer rentable lockers where new parents and their families can secure their personal affects.
Looking beyond the stationary furniture, hospitals use mobile testing equipment, crash carts, phlebotomist carts, and supply carts. Some of these come with factory installed locks, while others have been retrofit by clever locksmiths who fabricate locking mechanisms using electromechanical cabinet locks to secure these mobile cabinet doors or drawers.
Not all equipment has locks. On the crash carts, hasps and tamper-evident seals enable those in charge to know if someone has opened a door or drawer. Tamper-evident seals are usually plastic or plastic metal products that cannot be opened without visibly damaging the seal mechanism.
Applications for mechanical locks include conventional, interchangeable and removable core. Pushbutton mechanical locks eliminate the need for carrying a key. Hospitals have keypad and card reader equipped electromechanical locks; electromechanical locks with audit trail and electromechanical locks with temperature controls and audit trail. These electromechanical locks can provide a higher level of restricted access when they are equipped with a badge reader. Most electromechanical locks at the hospitals I visited were battery operated.
At most hospitals, large numbers of mechanical locks offer varying degrees of security and convenience from high security and patent protection to the convenience of utilizing the same key for access control and cabinet lock operation.
Many hospitals prefer pin tumbler locks as they can be master keyed for convenience where permissible. One of the hospitals I visited had five large key cabinets just for utility/cabinet lock key storage. A sampling of lock manufacturers who offer mechanical cabinet locks include ASSA, CCL, CompX and Olympus Lock.
The U.L. 437 Listed ASSA cabinet locks feature the high security 11-pin cylinder that can be keyed into a master key system. CCL offers wafer tumbler, pin tumbler and combination locks for cabinet doors. CompX Chicago and National offer pin tumbler cabinet locks in a wide variety of configurations. Olympus Lock manufactures pin tumbler cabinet locks in a variety of keyways.
CCL and Olympus Lock also manufacture cabinet lock bodies. The CCL bodies are for the Small Format Interchangeable Cores. The Olympus Lock cabinet lock bodies are for conventional lock cylinders, and interchangeable and removable cores, enabling full sized cylindrical keys to operate cabinet locks. Olympus Lock cabinet lock options will accept third party conventional cylinders, Small Format (Best-Falcon), Schlage, Sargent, Corbin Russwin and Medeco Yale Large Format cores. This enables fewer keys with a more complex keying system.
Additional hospital hardware includes office furniture cabinet locks, file cabinet locks, nurse’s stations cabinet locks and specialty locking cabinets. Because of personal information including patient charts and privacy issues, an almost endless supply of cabinets are locked in locked rooms. A sampling of lock manufacturing companies who offer mechanical pushbutton and/or electromechanical locks are Codelocks, CompX Security Products, HES, Kaba Ilco, Lockey USA and Medeco.