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Hospital Security Officer
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  Who is a Hospital Security Officer?

Unlike other health care employees, the Hospital Security Officer makes no product and provides no treatment to patients. However, the Security Officer is a very visible hospital employee. Most people entering a hospital for the first time feel uneasy, if not scared. This fear can be lessened considerably when they are greeted by professional Security Officers who offer help, clear directions, and, most importantly, a safe environment where they can receive care.

  What does a Hospital Security Officer do?

Hospital Security Officers are charged with protecting:

  • people
  • property
  • information
  • reputation

Preventive patrol or inspectional service is the method employed by Security Officers to determine that conditions are normal in a given area and to provide a visible deterrent factor. This function takes on greater importance at night by providing a feeling of safety for staff, patients, and visitors. While on patrol, Security Officers routinely turn lights off as an energy conservation measure. They also check windows and doors to afford better protection to building occupants and to safeguard unoccupied buildings.

An especially important function of Security Officers with respect to hospital staff is their rapid response to security emergencies within the hospital. Whether for psychiatric or medical reasons, patients sometimes become violent or threaten medical or nursing staff. Residents should never put themselves or other staff at risk in these situations but should immediately call for Security Officers’ assistance in subduing or restraining such patients. Security Officers may also be called upon for external emergencies, such as assisting in providing aid for disaster victims.

Security Officers give directions to hospital patients and visitors. They may also help people into and out of their cars, or assist them with dead car batteries. Security Officers may also be involved in receiving hospital deliveries at night and escort duties.

Security Officers spend a good deal of their time enforcing the rules and regulations of the hospital, which is one of their primary responsibilities.

  What education, training, and experience must one have to function as a Hospital Security Officer?

Most Hospital Security Officers complete at least a basic security officer’s program. These programs can run as long as 24 hours and cover subjects ranging from laws of arrest to weapon safety.

Many of the basic training courses are tailored to individual hospital needs. In recent years, a number of states have mandated requirements for Security Officers, and most states have mandated requirements for weapon training.

  How and by whom is a Hospital Security Officer supervised?

The Hospital Security Officer may report to a shift supervisor, operations chief, or hospital security supervisor. All security staff ultimately report to a hospital’s security director.

  What are the typical day-to-day activities of a Hospital Security Officer?

A typical day at the hospital for a Security Officer will include:

  1. Post/patrol duty:
    • providing protection, assistance, and control
    • monitoring activity in and around an assigned area
    • being alert for suspicious activity
    • enforcing access to the property and regulating removal of equipment
    • patrolling the hospital and reporting findings
  2. Information reporting:
    • gathering, compiling, recording, and reporting information
    • reporting security or safety hazards
    • treating all information as confidential and respecting everyone’s right to privacy
  3. Situation response:
    • responding appropriately to routine and emergency situations in a timely manner
    • evaluating a situation and taking appropriate steps to resolve it in a professional manner
    • using only necessary force, as appropriate to the situation
    • providing traffic control, when necessary
    • monitoring a given situation until completed
    • acting with restraint, not allowing emotions to dictate actions and/or reactions.

  Must a Hospital Security Officer be licensed or certified to function in his or her role as part of a health care team?

Various states have created Security Officer Certification programs, but none are required for the Hospital Security Officer. However, any type of weapon used by that Security Officer must be licensed, and the Officer must be certified to carry that weapon (baton, firearm, etc.).

  What types of patients would benefit from the care of a Hospital Security Officer?

The Hospital Security Program is an element of the hospital that supports professional care of all patients. All patients, staff, and visitors benefit from a well structured security program, and the Hospital Security Officer is the “backbone” of that program.

  How and when does a Hospital Security Officer become involved in the care of a patient?

Security Officers become involved with patients when their assistance is requested by medical or nursing staff or when patients or their families approach them for some form of assistance or information.

  Professional organization for Hospital Security Officers:

Contributed by:
Joe Forte, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania

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