The open-door policy that exists in hospitals makes it difficult to protect patients and staff. The murder last week of Dr. Dmitriy Nikitin, who was shot by a disgruntled patient as he walked from Florida Hospital's downtown building into the parking garage, is yet another example of violence in hospitals. After shooting the doctor that allegedly performed a life-saving transplant, Nelson Flecha shot and killed himself. According to an Orlando Sentinel article, the hospital is stepping up security in the wake of the incident, but doesn't specify how.
What can hospitals do to protect against this kind of senseless violence? The incident was apparently caught on video surveillance, but security didn't notice the shooter lurking in the parking garage. Also, because he didn't enter the facility, a visitor badge system coupled with an instant background check system wouldn't have helped either. Certainly, more security officers could be a deterrent, but this man was obviously disgruntled and on a mission. It's hard to stop that kind of person.
Violence is becoming more prevalent in hospitals. According to the article:
Last year, the Joint Commission — a nonprofit organization that accredits U.S. hospitals — reported that since 1995, there have been 256 assaults, rapes or homicides at hospitals and health-care facilities. Of those, 110 have occurred since 2007.
Some hospitals are taking unique and high-tech approaches to security. Earlier this year, I wrote this story about Atlantic Health, a large healthcare provider serving northern New Jersey and metropolitan New York and how they're relying on technology to help mitigate threats to staff and patients. For example, the hospital has deployed facial recognition technology in its emergency department to identify people within the hospital’s database who are considered high risk. The hospital also pays a monthly subscription fee in order to access several national databases, which determines in real-time if an individual has a criminal history, such as the National Crime Information Center, the federal Terrorist Screening Center watch list as well as all 50 state’s Department of Motor Vehicle databases.
Similarly, I wrote about Pacific Hospital of Long Beach is largely concerned about not allowing dangerous or unstable individuals into its facilities, and they focus on properly training their security officers. Supervisors are also given Android smartphones that they use to monitor video cameras in the hospitals instead of having to contact or visit the control room.
Are there other security measures hospitals should be taking? Are all hospitals considered high-risk because of their open-door policy?