Both publicly and privately, hospital security has become a bigger and bigger issue in the past few years.
And now with the big reckless panic over Ebola being transmitted – we have more concerns than ever.
One of the primary reasons more focus has been placed on security in American hospitals is because of liability: if a patient is injured or documents go missing and the source of the problem can be traced to lax security, then the hospital, not the patient, is liable.
Malpractice suits are already costing major hospitals millions of dollars each year, and a few thousands of dollars in security costs easily outweigh hundreds of thousands of dollars in court costs.
Another reason hospital security has come into question is because hospitals possess a great deal of personal information about their patients. Medical records, social security numbers, billing information, all of this personal information is filed away in hospitals. With identity theft becoming more and more prevalent, hospitals are beginning to realize the importance of secure patient information.
Often this prompts the implementation of added electronic security measures including access cards and password shifts which change network passwords weekly or even daily. These safeguards help protect information networks from both remote hackers and internal employees who attempt to access information they do not have clearance to view.
Of course, hospitals are repositories for large amounts of drugs, including narcotics, depressants, stimulants, opiates, and hefty painkillers.
Some of these drugs are addictive, and many are openly traded on the street. The security of prescription medications has normally been the first major security investment most hospitals have made, installing secure dispersion areas and barricaded storage facilities for the serious drugs.
These precautions are rarely unwarranted; most hospitals have a few break-ins each year.
Though it is rare, hospitals are sometimes the scenes of murders or abductions, especially in maternity wards.
In 1997 a newborn infant was snatched from a hospital in southern England. Similar incidents have prompted the installation of hidden security cameras and internal doors in maternity wards to ensure that hospital staff know where people are and whether or not they belong in the ward.
Other hospitals have increased the number of guards and cameras onsite, often installing metal detectors at the front doors. In the end, physical safety depends on making sure nobody is outside of where they need to be, and electronic security depends on a protected password and access system to ensure that nobody has access to information they are not authorized to have.