Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) in Boston is well-acquainted with the dangers an unauthorized person can pose when granted access to restricted areas. The facility suffered unflattering headlines earlier this year when the public learned that 42-year-old Cheryl Wang  had bluffed her way into five ORs and other patient care areas late last year by posing as a doctor-in-training, despite having been dismissed from her surgical residency program.
Wang’s case—which brought an unsettling reminder of the 2015 security lapse that enabled a disgruntled man to corner and kill  a BWH doctor in an exam room—drew attention to an extremely common security vulnerability known as “tailgating” or “piggybacking.” When walking through a doorway, it’s common courtesy to hold the door for whoever is behind you. That’s a problem, however, if the person behind you doesn’t have permission to go where you’re going.
To reinforce the lesson that every hospital employee has a responsibility to help keep unauthorized people out of restricted areas, BWH produced instructional videos that depict disturbingly mundane security lapses. The two dramatizations, titled “Be Aware ” and “Don’t Hold The Door ,” will be shown to all 18,000 of BWH’s employees.
“We intended for the videos to be provocative, to invoke a strong reaction, so that they would be memorable ,” said Erin McDonough, BWH’s chief communication officer, in a statement.
One video depicts two workers chatting as they return to their stations from a coffee break, unaware that an unknown woman has followed them onto a restricted elevator. From there, the woman gains access to a maternity ward to abduct a newborn. The other shows a worker in scrubs politely holding the door for an unknown man.
“Closing a door to someone feels uncomfortable and impolite, and it contradicts what many of us have been taught from a young age,” McDonough said. “We need our staff to know the potentially dangerous consequences of enabling people who do not have permission to access restricted areas—whether consciously or unconsciously—and give them tools that empower them to take action.”
The two videos are the centerpiece of BWH’s safety campaign, but they are buttressed by a multi-pronged approach that includes the following:
- Signage. The points where unauthorized access is most likely to occur, including some 1,200 card scanners throughout BWH’s facilities, will be labeled with signs to remind workers to be aware of who’s coming with them.
- Reminder cards. Workers will be issued additional cards that bear the slogan “Stop, Challenge, Assist,” with a phone number for hospital security, as a reminder to use their privileged access with caution and care.
- Policies. Employees who are followed by an unauthorized person are now required to abide by two updated policies: Either question the person directly, or contact security to do so. There’s no option to merely dismiss the unauthorized access as nonthreatening.
- Training. After hospital employees screen the two videos, they will role-play related scenarios with a security team, then follow-up to session with a Q-and-A to discuss what they learned.
In addition to training its own staff, BWH has opted to share the components of this campaign far and wide—a helpful gesture, considering that tailgating and piggybacking are a safety consideration in every healthcare facility.
“People who work in the healthcare setting have a natural inclination to help others,” said Dave Corbin, BWH’s director of security and parking, in the statement. “Our campaign emphasizes that being aware is one of the best ways for them to ensure the wellbeing of patients, their families and each other.”