One in three U.S. hospitals reported an increase in violence and assaults in 2014 despite widespread rising security budgets, according to a 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 percent) 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 percent to 400 percent per year, according to Guardian 8, a provider of enhanced non-lethal (ENL) devices built for the security industry.

Guardian 8 maintains 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 and take their first-hand knowledge of a hospital's facilities, risks and protocols with them, the survey says.

The company urges hospital security directors to recommend to administrators the smartest, safest security solutions. Without security-minded solutions, hospitals could suffer high security staff turnover, violent incidents leading to injuries and lost workdays. Add to that the high cost of replacing staff, estimated at 25 percent to 200 percent of the employee's annual salary to cover the costs of advertising, interviewing, background checks, hiring and training.

According to the survey, 59 percent of respondents reported being unfamiliar with laws in their state restricting the use of non-lethal weapons. So if hospital administrators deny a request for security equipment for regulatory reasons, the company urges security directors to ask for the code or regulation in question.

Other survey highlights include:

  • Response options: 15 percent of hospital security personnel are unarmed; 28 percent are armed; 57 percent use intermediate, non-lethal devices
  • Variety of equipment carried by hospital security personnel: pepper spray, 41 percent; two-way communication system, 40 percent; baton, 37 percent; stun gun, 28 percent; on security officer video, 26 percent
  • Seventy percent of respondents use an incident reporting system that includes a dashboard of activities for review.
  • Fifty-one percent of respondents said they would feel comfortable moving away from their current security options.