South Florida Hospital News
Wednesday June 3, 2020
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June 2005 - Volume 1 - Issue 11

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Protecting the Pediatric Patient

Protecting pediatric patients can be one of the most challenging and difficult endeavors a hospital security administrator may face. Divorces, child custody battles, parental rights, and grandparents rights can all blend together to put the hospital in the middle of difficult and tense domestic situations. These risks become even more complex when a childís illness and hospitalization is serious and more intense.

There are numerous areas in a pediatric security program that, when properly addressed, help to maximize the opportunity to protect the pediatric patient while he or she is hospitalized. A well built and well designed pediatric protection program includes considerations in the following areas:

Administration

Like all security sensitive areas, the Pediatric Department should have a written security management program that address security issues specific to pediatric protection.

All individuals applying for a position in a Pediatrics unit should undergo pre-employment screening, which includes drug testing, criminal background checking (with particular emphasis on child abuse), and credit checking. In some states this is mandatory, while other states have not yet enacted legislation requiring such checks. Regardless of legal requirements, such background checking should be considered a critical component in protecting the pediatric patient.

Staff Identification

In our travels, we find that many hospitals become very relaxed in enforcing their staff identification policies. Industry standards and best practices call for all employees to be issued a photo ID badge, and policies typically require that the badges by "prominently displayed". Yet, we frequently find hospitals where employees are allowed to either disregard wearing their badges, or where the badges are allowed to be worn backwards so the name and photograph cannot be seen. Every employee assigned to a pediatric unit should be required to prominently display a photo identification ID badge, and the badge should be required to be worn in such a manner that the photo and the name of the person wearing it are clearly visible. The photo ID should include the name and title of the employee, as well as the department to which they are assigned, and any other coding that might be specific to indicate that they are authorized to be in the pediatric department. Some hospitals have gone to color coding ID badges, or placing color coded boarders on the ID badge as an indicator of what department the wearer is authorized to be in.

Regardless of the style or type of badge used, a written photo identification badge policy must be created, and strictly enforced, and every department head, supervisor, and security officer in the hospital should be held responsible for enforcement.

Visitor Identification

All visitors to a Pediatrics unit should be required to obtain a visitor pass prior to entering the unit; no visitor should be allowed into the Pediatrics unit without an authorized visitor identification badge or pass. Gone are the days when visitors were able to park in the parking lot, walk in, and walk into the Pediatrics unit without an escort or without being challenged. Today, every visitor should be identified long before ever being allowed access into the Pediatrics Department.

Additionally visitors on the Pediatric unit should be required to display a visitor badge or visitor pass on their outer clothing the entire time that they are in the unit. Upon completion of their authorized visit, the visitor pass or visitor badge should be collected back from the visitor as they leave the unit and prior to leaving the building. Finally a system of identifying and verifying visitors prior to allowing them up to the Pediatrics unit should be considered. No visitor should be allowed on the unit without prior approval from the charge or supervising nurse, or the authorized administrative representative in the Pediatrics unit. Even after authorization, proper photo identification of the visitor should be established, and this information recorded if future reference is ever necessary.

Visitor Control

In days gone by, it was not uncommon for the entire family to set up camp in the patientís room when a pediatric patient was admitted to the hospital. Changes in todayís society and new security threats facing Pediatric units have necessitated changes in the way visitor control procedures are handled.

In many Pediatric units, a maximum of two visitors per patient should be allowed at any one time without prior approval of the appropriate staff. In addition, all visitors should enter and exit the Pediatrics unit via the main entrance. No visitor to the Pediatrics unit should ever be allowed access via a back stairway, a service elevator, or an employee entrance point. One (and only one) public access point should be utilized for visitors entering and leaving the Pediatrics unit.

The issue of pediatric security cannot be over emphasized. Next month we will continue to explore this critical issue, and we will discuss issues of access and egress control, CCTV and alarm systems, staff training, and other issues associated with protecting the pediatric patient. In the meantime, keep your guard up and stay safe.

Steve Wilder and Chris Sorensen are senior partners in the consulting group of Sorensen, Wilder & Associates (SWA). For more information, call (800) 568-2931 or at swa@swa4safety.com.
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