An Overview of Hospital Hardware

Feb. 1, 2009
Hospital security hardware and locks must comply with Life Safety codes and other standards.

Locksmith work can become repetitive for some individuals on a day-to-day basis. You install locks and lock hardware, rekey locks, unlock houses and cars, etc. Dealing with external customers, the life of a retail locksmith varies from one day to the next but is different than the life of an institutional locksmith.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) passed more than 10 years ago requires compliance with a host of federal and local regulations. HIPAA addresses the protection of patient records and control of access to both records and facilities.
The majority of compliance actions concern electronic protection of computerized records, but also outlines the physically securing of those computers that carry patient records. It also requires the establishment of a security system with audit trails to monitor employee interaction with both patient and financial records and to control authorized access to at risk areas of a healthcare facility.

Compliance with Americans with Disabilities Act, Life Safety Codes and National Fire Protection Association rules specify that address the physical security of a facility with locks, latches and alarm devices. NPPA101: places emphasis on locks “that require no keys, tools or special knowledge to operate.” The code also has rules governing stairwell reentry and procedures for releasing devices. All sections of these regulatory codes seek to ensure occupant safety during an emergency.

Because the hospital is made up of various different departments and hardware applications, the locksmith must be able to instantly respond to the needs of his internal customers.

In a small setting, the hospital campus may be limited to a few buildings on the same parcel of land. In many large educational based hospitals can be made up of dozens of buildings spread out over a large geographic area.

This article is designed to present an overview of some of the different types of security hardware found in a hospital setting. Some of it is unique to healthcare and some is found in general use.

Many of these pieces of hardware can be found in various areas of the hospital. Different areas such as Emergency Rooms, Examining Areas, Patient Rooms, Psychiatric Areas and Nurses Stations will share the same type of hardware.

Likewise Garages, Parking Areas, Hallways and other common areas will feature similar hardware use.
In alphabetical order, here are some of the security products you’ll find in a hospital setting.

Trilogy Access Control offers various models and features. The DL series offers stand-alone digital entry locks with various features and benefits holding from 100 to 2000 users. The PDL series incorporates a proximity device built into the face of the lock. Access can be gained through the use of a pin code or proximity credential. For specialty applications, Trilogy offers a double-sided digital lock in the DL/PDL5300 series for use in a communicating application where a code is required from either side. A privacy function on the DL/PDL4100 allows the user to access the room and gain privacy by pushing an inside button. This locks out the use of other access codes, but still allows the master code and key to over-ride it in case of emergency. The privacy locks are used on resident sleeping rooms in the emergency area for on-call associates.

AMSEC offers a full line of safes including depository safes. In a hospital setting any of the DS Series would provide a cash drop, key drop or place to deposit confidential records. The DSC2014KC allows a small keyed storage compartment at the top with an anti-fish protected front-load depository beneath. The safe doors on the DS Series can be had with a double-nosed keyed lock, standard combination or electronic combination lock.

One of the specialty applications of the CompX eLock is for refrigerators. The CompX eLock is available in a cabinet application as well. In a refrigerator use, the unit can display the temperature, alarm when a temperature is exceeded or dropped and keep an audit trail of usage. When drugs require refrigerated storage, this lets management know who had access. Credentials can be individually by keypad, prox or magstripe, or a combination of keypad/prox or keypad/magstripe. The eLock is battery-operated stand-alone, software controls users.
The CompX group provides a full line of desk and file lock hardware. Because CompX Timberline, Chicago, National, Timberline and Fort are also of the same family, a full range of switch locks, t-handle, standard pin, tubular pin and disc tumbler locks are found to fit almost every steel or wood desk or cabinet. The Timberline glass door deadbolt offers solution for some swinging glass door cabinets that may contain drugs or sensitive records.

One of the most common sights in hospital hardware is the Push/Pull lock function. The HL Series lock is a passage set with a unique push/pull operation. Instead of turning a knob or lever, this lock is operated by a simple push from one side or pull from the opposite side. Commonly found in a five-inch backset this lock requires only a gentle movement from a fingertip, elbow, hand, wrist or forearm. Optional engraving of PUSH or PULL is available on either style.

A wide range of protective hardware is available from Don-Jo. Kick plates, mop plates, push plates, pull handles, filler plates, latch protectors, door bumpers, door stops, hold-opens and more can be found throughout the hospital setting.

Safes of all types and sizes are available from Gardall. In a hospital setting a small privacy safe like the Gardall WMS912E may be installed in the wall of a patient room. Similar to a hotel application, an electronic lock is used to allow the patient to insert their valuables and set a personal code. This protects their valuables while in the hospital.

General Electric Security Designs incorporates Supra StorAKey and other Supra products. A variety of pushbutton key storage boxes are available. Two of their units are handy for hospital use. The Digital Key Safe is a designer key box with an electronic time stamp that records the last nine events. Access codes can be changed at the keypad. With over 1,000 combinations, it provides secure storage for a key requiring multiple access. The TouchPoint Lock is designed to replace a standard cam lock with a digital access point. It consists of a solid die-cast body with a 10-digit changeable combination.

CCTV products from General Lock include cameras, lenses, monitors, digital video recorders, sensors for event-based monitoring, PC-based systems and remote monitoring. Video surveillance is a powerful addition to any security plan and complements existing security hardware, electronic access control, card access systems and code or ADA-compliant solutions.

Electric strikes are everywhere in a large hospital. Interior and exterior doors will present an opportunity to provide the right strike for the right application. The 5900 Series offers patented vertical adjustability to allow for door sag or misalignment. This concealed electric strike offers heavy-duty performance and reliability. It is field selectable fail-safe / fail-secure and requires no cutout of the frame for fast, easy installations.
Another HES offering is the Smart Pac II, an in-line power control with a built-in bridge rectifier. Accepting input voltages from 12v to 32v AC or DC, the output can be set for 12 or 24 VDC. In a continuous duty application the output VDC is reduced by 25 percent to extend the life of the electric strike. An adjustable 2-8 second timer and MOV to protect against inrush and reverse surges are standard.

Key Cabinets are one of HPC’s staple products. Along with dozens of locksmith tools, machines and specialty equipment, the HPC Kekab is well known in the security industry. Kekabs are available to hold from eight to hundreds of keys on slotted key tags. A special ‘check out’ tag is used to record who borrows which key and when it is to be returned. Kekabs are available with a cam lock key, 4-Wheel combination or mortise cylinder design to accommodate keying into a master key system. The HPC MediKab offers a secure storage location for medicine and pharmaceuticals.

Knob and lever guards are essential in a hospital setting to minimize damage done by carts, forklifts and gurneys. The design of the Protect-A-Lock series provides a bumper that is installed below the lever or knob. Available in various sizes the material of the K12 is lexan polycarbonate while the K12S series is made of stainless steel.

Dor-O-Matic offers a choice of ADA-compliant low-energy operators which open a door automatically with an activation device but also allow it to function as a regular pedestrian door in the manual mode. For use on exterior or interior doors, three basic models cover almost any healthcare application.

In the case of a psychiatric department, special hardware is available to minimize patient injury. There are specially designed knobs that feature a conical design. This taper prevents a patient from hooking a piece of clothing or bedding over the knob to affect a suicide attempt. Doors in psychiatric areas also feature special hinges with a tapered finial to prevent hanging something from the hinge top. The entire Marks line of graded hardware represents a quality line with wide applications.

Another well-known brand of locksmith tools and equipment is Major Manufacturing. In addition to dozens of other handy products, Major Mfg. has a new line of file cabinet locking bars. The FB-Series bars mount on the left side of a cabinet for standard applications and a right-hand version is also available. Sizes vary to fit from one to five drawer files and desks. When open the design prevents blocking additional cabinets in a row and the red tape strip on the inside of the locking bar indicates an unlocked cabinet and protects painted finishes when locked. Secured by any standard padlock, the FB series can also be used on rollaway cabinets.

A wide range of key control and high security lock products are available from Medeco. On a key control level, the new Medeco Keymark X4 offers a cost-effective way to replace and upgrade an existing facility where there are multiple master key systems because of a mix of product brands. The ability of the Keymark X4 offers cylinders compatible with small format interchangeable core and mortise, rim or knob/lever cylinders all keyed to the same keying system. Key blanks are offered in standard, custom coined, versions. Hybrid Prox and iCLASS electronic key blanks are also compatible with this system. Keymark X4 has up to four times the masterkey capability of standard SFIC and is patented through 2027.

When working with cabinet locks, the ability to match keying to an existing master key system is invaluable. Olympus offers a huge selection of cabinet hardware including a series of latches and deadbolts designed to secure cabinets with the use of Best Small Format IC, or Schalge, Corbin Russwin, Medeco, Yale Large Format IC cylinders. They also offer a version to retrofit most KIK/KIL cylinders or small CCL and National keyways. The expansive ability to key these locks into almost any existing key system combine with the versatility of top bolt (up/down) or side bolt (left/right) applications.

The high traffic use of many doors in a hospital calls for some doors to stay open during normal operation. In a fire situation though, the doors must release and close to prevent the spread of fire and smoke. A magnetic door hold-open such as the Rixson 980/990 Series offers floor or wall mount electromagnetic hold-open devices that are tied into the fire alarm system and will cause the doors to close automatically when released from the open position. Surface or recessed mounting allows the maximum door clearance when in the open position.

The popularity of Schlage products is evident in almost any institutional facility. High-security locks and keys are available on a number of levels from Schlage. In a secure setting, various levels of Primus are available to control key duplication and prevent unauthorized access by means of mechanical attack. The Schlage Primus system is a recognized name in high security and heavy-duty commercial hardware. The Primus system allows the hospital locksmith to track and control his keys secure in the knowledge that when a key is returned, no unauthorized duplicate has been made.

Here is a quick look at some of the potential opportunities in a healthcare facility.

Maternity Ward – Infant Security Systems
Exterior Openings – Keypad, Card Access, High-Security Key System
High Traffic Areas – Exit Devices, Electro-Mechanical Exit Devices, Fire and Life Safety Code compliance, NFPA and ADA requirements
Operating/Examining Areas – RF Actuators, Hard-Wired Actuators, Electro-Mechanical Exit Devices
Records Room – Stand-Alone Access Control w/ Audit Trail, PC-Based, Prox Card, Biometric, Keypad w/ Audit Trail, Door Position Sensors w/ Monitoring
Main Entry – Low Energy Operators w/ PIR Egress, Visitor Badging System, Electromagnetic with Release, Electro-Mechanical Exit Devices
Storage Room – Auto Operators with RF Actuators, Stand-Alone Access Control w/ Audit Trail
Drug Storage / Pharmacy - Stand-Alone Access Control w/ Audit Trail, Door Position Sensors w/ Monitoring, CCTV, High-Security Key System
Drug Storage Internal – Dual Credential or Custodial Access w/ Audit Trail, Biometrics Access Control, CCTV, Door Position Sensors w/ Monitoring
Parking Lots – CCTV with Pan / Tilt / Zoom, IP Addressable Cameras, Long-Range Prox Readers for Gates
Cash Management Area – Triggered CCTV Monitoring, DVR, Door Position Sensors w/ Monitoring, Stand-Alone Access Control w/ Audit Trail, PC-Based, Prox Card, Biometric, Keypad w/ Audit Trail

Hospitals offer a wide range of opportunities to increase security. The in-house institutional locksmith may not always be the final answer to get the job done. Although many institutional locksmiths handle a wide range of duties admirably, some never deal with electronic products or CCTV or audit trailing.

Getting to know your local healthcare facilities may prove beneficial to any retail locksmith. If there is no locksmith on staff, communicate with the right people to inform them of your products and services. If there is a locksmith on staff, introduce yourself and get to know them. Let them know who you are and that you’ll gladly help them out if they have a security problem or need security consultation. Get them in the habit of coming to your shop with that oddball desk key. In the long run you can learn from each other and develop it into a worthwhile relationship.