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.

One sure sign of an improperly functioning door is one that’s propped open with a broom handle or wood wedge. If there is one door that won’t close although it appears that all hardware is working correctly, check that all the other doors in the area are properly closed. Often fixing a door is as easy as making sure all the others are closing properly.

Patient Rooms: Patient room doors need to provide easy access for gurneys, equipment, wheelchairs and medical staff while still providing patients and family the privacy and safety they need. Because patient rooms turn over frequently, cleanliness is also critical to patient and staff wellbeing. Consider the following factors:

  • Push-pull latches in place of standard levers to make doors easier to open when the user’s hands are not free
  • Openings wide enough for equipment to pass to avoid damage to frame, hardware and door
  • Door hardware made from antimicrobial copper solutions such as ActivClean from Ingersoll Rand to reduce the spread of infectious bacteria
  • Kick plates that cover the appropriate amount of the door to avoid damage from cleaning equipment.

Doors that aren’t quite wide enough to let carts or equipment pass easily can be made wider by changing to swing-clear hinges. These hinges let the door swing past the frame to maximize the size of the door opening.

Patient Restrooms: Patient restrooms must provide privacy but also the right safety features to prevent injury to the patient and provide quick, easy staff access in an emergency. Consider these issues:

  • Doors should swing outward to allow staff access in the event of a patient fall
  • Push/pull latches with a privacy function
  • Locks with a release on opposite side provides for emergency access
  • Use of overhead stops on doors that may swing into walls and cause damage
  • Doorways wide enough for wheelchairs to pass easily.

Hospital Pharmacy and In-Department Pharmaceutical Storage: When it comes to the pharmacy, theft is the number one security concern. Pharmaceutical supplies are accessible to staff members across shifts and possibly from other departments. These areas may also be in view of patients and/or accessible to visitors. Access control and tracking is critical to preventing drug theft and maintaining patient confidentiality.

Pharmacy requirements include:

  • Maintaining key control and/or accurate access management
  • Use of the correct device for the opening – whether it’s access to a room, or a cabinet
  • A quality lock will not have lever sag, which may prevent correct latching, compromising security.

A great way to control pharmacy access is with biometric readers. Biometric readers, networked or standalone ensure only those who are authorized gain access to these sensitive areas.

Receiving Dock: The shipping and receiving dock in a hospital is one of the most vulnerable areas when it comes to security and access control. Staff and delivery personnel come and go through this area 24 hours a day, creating a need for effective and reliable access management.

Linens/Hazmat: Linen storage rooms do not typically see high traffic but they do take abuse from carts being pushed in and out, banging into the door and frame. Allowing only the people who should to have access to these areas is very important as linen chutes and other hazmat receptacles pose a risk for transfer of infectious materials. Be aware that:

  • Doors are not propped open to allow unauthorized or accidental access,
  • Damage to doors from carts and equipment can compromise latching, closing and locking
  • Using access control measures such as electronic locks can eliminate unauthorized access.

Ann Geissler Timme is Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies’ Healthcare Marketing Manager.


1. Laboratory testing shows that, when cleaned regularly, CuVerro surfaces kill greater than 99.9% of the following bacteria within 2 hours of exposure: Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus, Staphylococcus aureus, Entrerobacter aerogenes,Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and E. coli O157:H7.
2. The use of CuVerro® antimicrobial copper products is a supplement to and not a substitute for standard infection control practices; users must continue to follow all current infection control practices, including those practices related to cleaning and disinfection of environmental surfaces. This surface has been shown to reduce microbial contamination, but it does not necessarily prevent cross contamination. It should not be interpreted that CuVerro is making claims to solely prevent HAI nor should it be implied that CuVerro products make such claims.

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