Posted by Heidi Schwartz
One in three U.S. hospitals reported an increase in violence and assaults in 2014 despite widespread rising security budgets, according to a recent survey of 380 hospital administrators, chief security officers, and staff by Guardian 8 Corporation. Top security concerns included the safety of patients and security officers as well as disruptions to patient care, according to the survey.
Reported increases in attacks and assaults included violence by patients and/or their families against emergency department personnel and staff such as nurses. Nearly half of respondents (46%) reported increasing their security budgets in 2014.
The findings highlight the importance of proper security on hospital campuses and the need to address security staff turnover rates as high as 300% to 400% per year, according to Guardian 8.
“No hospital facility can achieve its crucial mission of providing quality patient care without proper security to ensure patient, staff, and visitor safety,” said Paul Hughes, Chief Operating Officer of Guardian 8. “The inability to address a violent situation properly does not just affect the morale of security personnel, but it also has an impact on the doctors and nurses around them. Low morale makes recruiting and retention a serious issue across the board. Minimizing security officer turnover therefore needs to be an integral part of a hospital’s overall security solution.”
An Equipment Issue
The excessive turnover in the hospital security industry is more an equipment issue than a matter of pay. When security officers feel safe, properly equipped, and well prepared, they are less likely to leave—taking their first-hand knowledge of a hospital’s facilities, risks, and protocols with them.
Exacerbating high security staff turnover, violent incidents lead to injuries and lost workdays. On top of that is the high cost of replacing staff, which is estimated at 25% to 200% of the employee’s annual salary to cover the costs of advertising, interviewing, background checks, hiring, and training.
Other survey highlights include the following:
- Respondents’ top security concerns: patient safety (57%), officer safety (56%), disruptions to patient care (24%);
- Response options: 15% of hospital security personnel are unarmed; 28% are armed; 57% use intermediate, non-lethal devices;
- Variety of equipment carried by hospital security personnel: pepper spray, 41%; two-way communication system, 40%; baton, 37%; stun gun, 28%; on security officer video, 26%;
- Seventy percent of respondents use an incident reporting system that includes a dashboard of activities for review; and
- Fifty-one percent of respondents said they would feel comfortable moving away from their current security options.
To understand recent trends in hospital violence and assault, and gauge top concerns and response options, Guardian 8 fielded an online survey of 380 hospital administrators, chief security officers, and nurses and hospital staff across the nation from December 5, 2014 to January 21, 2015.