California now requires that hospitals conform to minimal security standards by laying out required guidelines. This law is confined to the state of California, but it has national implications. Some hospital security executives believe that it is just a matter of time before these standards begin to appear in Environment of Care Standards required by the Joint Commission.

The California legislation requires hospital security and safety assessments to be conducted not less than annually, and requires hospital security plans to be updated annually, provides that hospital security plans may additionally include efforts to cooperate with local law enforcement regarding violent acts at the facility, and requires hospitals to consult with affected employees and members of the medical staff in developing their security plans and assessments.

In one analysis, the law:

  • Requires all general acute care, acute psychiatric and special hospitals to conduct a security and safety assessment and develop a security plan with measures to protect personnel, patients and visitors from aggressive and violent behavior.
  • Requires the assessment to examine trends of aggressive or violent behavior at the facility.
  • Requires hospitals to track incidents of aggressive or violent behavior for purposes of developing a security plan, which may include security considerations relating to physical layout, staffing, security personnel availability, policy and training related to responses to violent acts.
  • Requires hospitals, in developing the security plan, to consider guidelines or standards issued by the Department of Public Health (DPH), the Division of Occupational Safety and Health and the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and to adopt policies including, but not limited to, policies regarding personnel training designed to protect personnel, patients and visitors from aggressive or violent behavior.
  • Requires the members of a hospital committee responsible for developing the security plan to be familiar with several things, including the role of security in hospital operations, hospital organization, protective measures, handling of disturbed patients, visitors, and employees and identification of aggressive and violent predictive factors.
  • Requires a hospital to have sufficient personnel to provide security pursuant to the plan.
  • Requires certain acts of assault, as defined, to be reported to the local law enforcement agency within 72 hours.
  • Gives DPH authority to assess administrative penalties against hospitals for licensing deficiencies.