The Safety of Hospitals

Edith Perez

Riley Sims, Co-Editor-of-Chief

When people think about hospitals, they think about doctors, medicine, nurses and numerous beeping machines. However, what some people don’t think about is the daily security measures put in place at medical facilities. Although the movies show it differently, most hospitals won’t even let somebody get passed the front desk without asking them who they are visiting or telling them that they need a visitors pass to get by, which requires an official photo ID. Most hospitals, like Baylor Scott and White and Children’s Medical Center, have their own police officers on duty.

“You got to think of a hospital like its own small city, especially great big ones like big Baylor downtown and Parkland,” said School Resource Officer Steve Schnoebelen. “There are thousands of people who work there or are patients there within big towns. The big town police are usually busy answering calls so anytime there is something at the hospital it’s easier if they have their own police departments.”

Hospitals have many security procedures for all different kinds of emergencies and make sure their employer are up to date on all of them. Whether it be a fire, severe weather, or a missing person, everybody needs to know what to do. The majority of hospitals across the nation have a set of color codes to let hospital staff know of an emergency, which is a unified set of guidelines that everybody understands. Many of the employees’ badges also have certain symbols or colors indicating what their job is at the hospital, so both employees and patients know who is supposed to be where and make sure they aren’t breaking their scope of practice.

For patients and their families, one of the biggest concerns is somebody administering treatment who isn’t qualified or supposed to be there. About two years ago, a man was arrested at Children’s Medical Center Dallas for posing as a physician. According to officials, he got a temporary badge at the registration desk and wore a lab coat around the hospital. The hospital staff used standard procedures and never left him unsupervised and continued asking him questions. Once they realized he was not supposed to be there because he couldn’t show any valid identification, he was escorted out of the hospital.

Hospitals are open 24 hours, seven days a week, increasing the importance of security. Since hospitals treat anybody, including criminals, the risk of danger is high, making security a priority for hospitals. With crimes happening all over the country and the rise of mass shootings, the ER at hospitals is one of the most intense and dangerous places to work. According to a statistic from the International Association for Healthcare Security and Safety, assaults against hospital staff by patients and visitors accounted for 89 percent of all assaults at hospitals from 2012 to 2016. There is a risk of a patient having a weapon or illegal drugs on them when they arrive. HST teacher Candice Ochsendorf used to be an ER nurse at Medical Center Plano and has experienced the chaos firsthand.

“We get all kinds of activity as far as gangs, shootings and stabbings and go on lockdown if anything comes in,” said Ochsendorf. “Always be upfront with hospital staff if you have a gun on you, and let the hospital staff know and if there is anybody, say a gang member came in, let the hospital staff know what’s going on so that we take precautions in the hospital.”