Violent crime in schools or public places might get all the press, but healthcare employees often face violent patients or visitors as part of their day-to-day routine. In Denver, Exempla St. Joseph Hospital installed a mobile duress system to allow healthcare providers in high-risk areas to signal security merely by touching a pendant hanging from their necks.
According to the Denver Business Journal, 45 of the pendants are given to workers in the hospital’s emergency department, intensive care unit and behavioral-health units, and they can use the devices to text pre-set messages to security or to set off a general alarm that help is required.
Studies have showed that there has been an increase in violent incidents in hospitals over the past 10 to 15 years. One report published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine identified 154 shootings in or just outside of American hospitals between 2000 and 2011, the article says. According to Eric Smith, director of security for Exempla Healthcare’s three Denver-area hospitals, much of the uptick in violence has to do with an increase in recreational drug use that counterbalances many of the medications used by patients.
At St. Joseph, staffers treat an average of 160 high-risk patients a month (including those who are suicidal, homicidal or unable to take care of themselves) – that’s up from 125 a month in 2011.
With previous hard-wired duress systems, it could take several minutes to alert security, the article says. Staffers had also requested a way to notify security without being so obvious as picking up a phone, which could aggravate a dangerous patient.
The new duress system is built on a secure wireless network.