The Cure for Hospital Safety and Security

In addition to the heavy traffic through main openings, specialty openings such as cross-corridor doors, labor and delivery wards, ERs, patient records storage, pharmaceutical storage and patient rooms present their own challenges.


Cross-Corridor Openings: Doctors and other hospital personnel need quick, easy movement throughout the facility. Doors that don’t open as needed can sustain repeated damage from carts and other equipment banging into them. A smart solution is to automate the hospital’s cross-corridor openings.

To automate them with enough time for easy flow of traffic, locate a push or touchless actuator farther than from the door opening. By creating a longer distance between the actuator and the door, it lets the user trigger the actuator sooner with the result that a door is open by the time the user gets to it, minimizing damage from pushing. To make this transition, there are wireless actuator options that talk directly to the auto-operators and make installation simpler.

Labor and Delivery, Neonatal Intensive Care (NICU) and Nursery Departments: Security is one of the biggest priorities in these areas. While keeping mother and baby safe is of the utmost importance, maintaining a warm and nurturing environment is also imperative. These areas also include private patient rooms and care areas, public areas like waiting and vending areas and staff offices within the department. Facility managers and independent locksmiths need to consider:

  • Coordination with infant abduction systems,
  • Controlled access and monitoring of visitors coming and going within department,
  • Reduction of unwanted noise,
  • Openings that allow room for carts, gurneys and other equipment to pass easily
  • Compliance with fire codes, and
  • Reduction of dangerous bacteria.

Emergency Department: The fast pace and constant flow of people in and out of emergency rooms makes tracking visitors difficult. The constant wear and tear on doors and hardware means special care is needed to keep openings functioning properly. Increasing levels of violence also requires facilities to plan for the unexpected.

Hospitals need to be prepared for the following possibilities:

  • Lockdown situations to contain violence,
  • High use and abuse that causes damage to doors and hardware, and
  • Behavioral health patients that require care areas designed to remove physical risk.

Patient Records Storage: Whether protecting physical patient records or computers that access them, patient records must be easily accessible and are often used by many people on any given day. However, HIPAA regulations require strict protection of confidential patient information. That means effective security systems are critical. Challenges include:

  • Compatibility between locks, credential systems and/or hardware
  • Adequate key and access control
  • Adoption of wireless devices such as electronic locks to meet the needs of existing buildings that don’t permit easy installation of hard-wired access control systems
  • Reduction of liabilities associated with a records breach and HIPAA regulations.

Although regular staff offices within a hospital may only be used by a few people, they also often contain highly sensitive information ranging from patient charts to inter-office communications. Suggest adding electronic access control to these openings in order to control access and track who has entered that specific door.

If the hospital can’t accommodate the installation of a networked access control system for records rooms or offices, consider a standalone electronic lock such as the Schlage CO-Series. This easy-to-use lock requires a PIN and/or other credential for entry and can track up to 2,000 events at each lock. The administrator can then know who used the lock and when.

Stairway Doors: Stairways in hospitals don’t typically see much traffic, aside from staff using them to get quickly from place to place. Stairwell doors play an important safety role by allowing quick, easy egress in an emergency. However, they can also compromise security by allowing access to unauthorized persons within the hospital.

Look for the following issues:

  • Older doors may not be able to prevent unauthorized entrance
  • Doors may not close and latch correctly
  • Doors may not be up to current code
  • Gaps between doors and frame don’t provide proper fire and smoke seal
  • Doors propped open - compromising security and environmental air pressures.

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