Medical institutions face many challenges. One of the most important is ensuring the safety and well being of all individuals on its premises. Security administrators need to consider all of these groups in their security plan:
- Hospital staff – Doctors, nurses, utility crews
- Patients – Referrals, walk-ins, scheduled check-ups, emergency cases, inpatients, outpatients
- Visitors – Family and friends of patients, visitors of hospital staff
- Hospital suppliers – Medical representatives, delivery crews for medical and non-medical supplies
- Vendors – Cafeteria and concessions servers, gift shop staff
These groups all frequent different areas in a hospital, and it can be difficult for security teams to keep an eye on everyone in the building. For starters, security officers may not be allowed access to areas that house dangerous substances, or where contagious patients are quarantined. These are critical areas that don’t receive high foot traffic but still require stringent security; these restricted areas can greatly benefit from effective access control systems.
Hospital Security: How Secure Is Your Access Control System?
Functions of Access Control Systems:
- Restricting entry to areas that are closed off to the public.
- Monitoring the movement of guests and hospital personnel in the building.
- Identifying the individuals who access restricted rooms.
- Granting entry to personnel who have clearance to specific areas of the hospital.
- Enabling hospital management to program security parameters.
Hospitals also need to protect staff, patients, and visitors from those with malicious intent and people who, driven by intense emotions and stress, can grow violent against health care workers.
Most importantly, hospitals need to be ready to respond when a crisis occurs, such as a sudden influx of emergency patients, a stream of media and police in pursuit of a high-profile patient, or a dangerous individual entering the building. Through access control systems, hospitals can enforce lockdowns and usher people in the right direction during an emergency to ensure their safety.
If any of the five functions listed above fail, the physical safety of the people and confidential information could be compromised. It’s crucial to ensure that security access control systems in hospitals are 100 percent functional at all times.
A way to check and see if your systems are working properly is to perform a security audit.
Security Audits: 4 Focus Points
A regular audit is vital for making sure that your access control systems are functioning correctly. Audits may be hospital-wide or conducted section by section and it is important to pay particular attention to these four areas:
- Physical Barriers – Audits should include tests on physical barriers like magnetic and auto-lock doors, turnstiles, and speed gates for pedestrians and cars. Barriers that are slow to respond could be problematic in emergency situations.
- Identification Devices – Impress upon your staff the importance of keeping their personal identification and access keys safe. Built-in devices like biometric-access locks, access control keypads and identification sensors must be programmed to admit the correct clearance levels into certain areas of the hospital. The audit should also extend to the data logs, which must show an accurate record of people’s comings and goings into restricted areas.
- Door Control Hardware and Software – Faulty access control due to careless installation and software bugs can render access control systems useless.
- Clearances – It’s imperative for the administration to keep a close watch over the clearances of hospital employees.
Human resources should immediately deactivate identification devices of resigned or terminated employees.
HR shouldn’t have to wait for a system audit. The office can initiate small audits when they have time to ensure that only authorized people can access the restricted areas in the hospital.
Access control systems in hospitals are for security, and human lives depend on their efficiency. A cohesive effort between HR, hospital management, security, and the IT department is necessary to ensure everyone’s safety, prevent theft and violence, and avoid a shutdown of hospital operations.
If you are looking to update or upgrade your hospital’s access control systems TED Systems can help. We specialize in fire detection, access control, and communications systems installation, integration, and maintenance.