September 30, 2019 | | Comments 1
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Wanna buy a watch? How about a patient watch?

It’s been a while (OK, more than a while: It would seem it’s been something more than a decade. My, how time flies!) since we’ve discussed the matter of using security officers to watch patients. I can absolutely say that it is often a topic of conversation when I meet with security folks over the course of consulting as it not infrequently has a significant impact on security staffing resources. As I have maintained for a very long time, it is very difficult to carry out security rounding, etc., when your security staff is eyeballing patients from a fixed post. If you’re interested in the “historical” perspective, please feel free to use the Wayback Machine to review the state of things in 2008!

If we have learned nothing else over the years, it is the truth in that old saw: “The more things change, the more things stay the same” (or variations thereof). I came across an article at the beginning of September referencing recent guidance from the International Association for Healthcare Security & Safety (IAHSS), which includes the advice of not to use security officers for patient sitting/watch activities. There are certainly any number of complexities that come into play—competency and education, “backfilling” security activities when security officers are caught up in patient care activities, etc. And with the increasing number and types of risks relating to security occurrences in hospitals, being able to effectively respond to those risks, should they occur, could make the difference in ensuring organizational viability. I personally (and particularly in those days in which I had operational responsibility for security) continue to believe that the use of security officers for “general” patient watches is an inappropriate use of resources. Sure, there will be those instances in which a security presence beyond a quick response is needed, but I can think of few more useless applications of security resources than a security officer watching a sleeping patient. Patients should receive care from caregivers, and not that security officers are uncaring, but their training and competence are “designed” for other duties.

As a quick closeout for this week (and perhaps it is the turning of the season that causes reflection on past experiences), for those of you that may be embarking on a managerial position for the first time or for those of you that have been managers for so long that your inception is lost in the mists of time (those mists, of course, are the result of the earth cooling), I ran across a piece that I think might be helpful or at least prompt some reflection on current and/or past experiences. “What I Wish I’d Known As A First Time Manager” offers 10 thoughts on those (sometimes tenuous) first steps into managerial bliss (yeah, right!). I don’t know that there’s anything particularly earth-shattering, but sometimes it’s nice to hear some practical thoughts in a place other than in your own mind. We are, after all, in this thing together, so improving one improves all—and if that’s not a pretty nifty raison d’être, I don’t know what is.

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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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  1. I tend to agree. What are your thoughts on security watching 302 patients that are waiting for placement who are are considered a flight risk? Would that be an appropriate use of resources?

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