As providers assume more accountability for the quality and cost of care, patient safety remains a top priority for hospitals nationwide. Yet, safety efforts often overlook the broader environment of care, where inadequate surveillance of physical hazards may result in visitor and staff injuries from slips and falls.
We spoke with Kenneth Bukowski, vice president of health care at AlliedBarton Security Services, to discuss tactics for improving safety inside and outside the hospital.
1. What safety procedures and plans should all hospitals have in place?
Security teams know every aspect of the healthcare facility and the unique safety and security needs of each hospital department. To help mitigate risk, security teams should work closely with hospital leadership to develop and implement procedures that ensure staff and patient safety.
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Job Safety Analysis
One such procedure is a Job Safety Analysis (JSA), which is a structured process that evaluates the relationship between workers, tasks, tools, and the environment. JSA allows workers to identify potential hazards of their job by breaking down job tasks into a series of steps. To help reduce the possibility of injury, workers are asked to determine best practices for completing each step of their task. When JSA is performed correctly, it is an effective accident prevention tool that increases workplace safety. Proactively managing safety and security should be a top-of-mind issue for all hospital staff—when organizations practice safety, patients are more likely to remain safe.
Slip, trip, and fall prevention also remains a key component of staff, patient, and visitor safety in provider facilities. Work with your security provider to identify solutions for potential slip, trip, and fall hazards. The safest facilities have developed and employed best practices surrounding fall hazards and risky scenarios.
2. What role does training and education play in reducing preventable falls across a hospital campus?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that slip, trip, and fall events are the second-leading cause of workers' compensation claims in hospitals. In 2010, a total of 12,400 slip, trip, and fall accidents accounted for 21% of all work-related injuries in hospitals that required at least one day away from work.
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For hospitals, it is vital that safety training takes a primary role during employee onboarding. And following onboarding, keep the discussion going—the more opportunities to teach employees, visitors, and patients about the importance of safety awareness and fall prevention, the less likely you are to have an accident. Educate through signage, verbal communication, and emails, and talk about risks and solutions during team or staff meetings. Safety is everyone's responsibility, and it is a best practice to recognize individuals who are observed performing their task safely.
3. How can security providers help hospitals improve safety across the facility?
Hospitals have unique safety and security characteristics. Most facilities have several access points that remain open 24 hours a day. It's essential for security teams to work closely with hospital staff to identify potentially unsafe areas.
Due to the distinctive safety concerns that hospitals must address, a hospital security team with industry-specific training is most effective. Health care security teams should complete training on fire safety, crisis prevention, workplace violence prevention, bloodborne pathogens, the managing aggressive patients, and many other hospital-specific safety and security needs.
Security teams are the eyes and ears throughout the facility, and utilize a combination of patrol, concierge services, remote monitoring, and emergency response to create a well-rounded approach to safety. They are able to monitor numerous areas of the facility at a time, and respond promptly when an issue occurs. This approach also allows security officers and management teams to identify any safety concerns in advance, before larger issues develop.
4. What steps can hospitals take today to partner with onsite security services around campus safety?
A hospital security team should know the facility inside and out, and that knowledge increases with frequent meetings and continuous communication with hospital staff and leadership. Hospital employees should be on the same page when it comes to the safety and security of staff, patients, and visitors alike. A security team should be an active participant in hospital committees and planning sessions around campus safety.
Because security teams are often first-responders in the event of an incident, it is essential to communicate any changes within the facility or disruptions to workflow so that your security teams have the knowledge to assist hospital staff in an emergency situation.
Lastly, tracking hospital safety programs and procedures is paramount. This ensures your leadership team is able to evaluate performance and determine what works, what doesn't work, and where improvements are needed. By reviewing data annually, monthly, or as an incident happens, hospital leaders can make adjustments, and positively impact staff, patient, and visitor safety.