December 05, 2008 | | Comments 0
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More about security officers watching patients

If I may continue on the topic of security officers getting pulled into the role of caregivers . . .
Time and again, I have seen security directors bemoaning the positions they find themselves in: patient watches spread all over an ED, multiple patients being assigned to a single officer (because that’s all that is available), and entire shifts of security officers tied up in the ED watching patients. The litany of, at best, untenable situations in which security staffs find themselves continues to grow.
And again, this is not a knock on security officers, who are generally very well-educated and competent in their role as security officers. But they are not educated as caregivers, and I believe that when we are looking at best care for these patients, caregivers are indeed what is needed (and not just sitters).
These patients are in crisis, and this thought of security keeping an eye on them just doesn’t translate into appropriate care. I’ve worked with security staffs over many years of my healthcare career and I can say with all honesty, if I had a family member in crisis, I would want them to be observed by someone competent in the whole range of potential issues, not just “making sure they don’t get up off the bed” or “making sure they don’t get out of the room.”
During those tense moments of crisis, security absolutely should be involved, but once the situation is under control, the patient should be handed off to a caregiver.

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Steve MacArthur About the Author: Steve MacArthur is a safety consultant with The Greeley Company in Danvers, Mass. He brings more than 30 years of healthcare management and consulting experience to his work with hospitals, physician offices, and ambulatory care facilities across the country. He is the author of HCPro's Hospital Safety Director's Handbook and is contributing editor for Briefings on Hospital Safety. Contact Steve at stevemacsafetyspace@gmail.com.

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