Mutual Matters

Hospital Advisory:  Should Hospital Security Officers Be Armed?

Posted by Ruth Wood, MBA, CPHRM on May 11, 2017 11:00:00 AM

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In light of continued reports of violent incidents in healthcare facilities, healthcare professionals are debating whether arming their security officers will improve safety for patients.

According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), healthcare and social service workers face significant risks of job-related violence. Although less than 20% of all workplace injuries happen to healthcare workers, they suffer 50% of all assaults. The actual rates may be even higher as research has shown that many incidents may go unreported. Security experts emphasize that using weapons in a healthcare setting has a different impact than when used on the street. Visible weapons in a healthcare facility are likely to send a negative message and security uniforms may agitate certain individuals. The purpose of using weapons is to enable trained security officers to prevent or stop violence directed towards hospital personnel, visitors and patients.

Most security officers complete at least basic safety programs that cover subjects like weapon safety and the laws related to arrest. Security officer basic training courses may be tailored to an individual facilities’ needs. Any type of weapon used by security officers in any setting must be licensed, and the officer must be certified to carry those weapons (baton, firearm, etc.) 

Funded by the International Healthcare Security and Safety Foundation (IHSSF) and investigated by Duke University Medical Center, a recent survey revealed the following regarding weapon use among hospital security personnel:

  • Handcuffs were the most common weapon available to security officers and used in 96% of the hospitals surveyed
  • The baton was carried and used by security officers at 56% of the facilities
  • The UDAP brand of pepper spray was carried by security officers in 52% of the hospitals
  • Tasers were used in 47% of those surveyed with a 41% lower risk of physical assault among security personnel who used Tasers
  • Handguns were being used by security officers in 52% of the hospitals surveyed

Find out what strategies healthcare facilities should consider for staff and patient safety. 

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As one of the leading mutual providers of Medical Professional Liability insurance, we're here to help all healthcare professionals with the challenges they face on a daily basis. The topics we cover include: 

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