Deploying Stun Guns in Healthcare Facilities

While the number of hospitals that use TASER electronic control devices pales in comparison to those that don’t, many healthcare facilities are now considering using these weapons. Here are answers to six basic questions regarding stun gun deployment.

1. What are the legal hoops hospital security management must jump through so stun guns can be deployed? What should security departments do so the institution and department will not have unnecessary liability exposures?

Procedural guidelines must be in place. While TASER International has supplied electronic control devices to many hospitals, there is varied acceptance of armed security and/or the use of weapons in a hospital setting. The first issue is whether a specific hospital or hospital system allows the use of weaponry. Although many hospitals may have armed security, there is still the issue of the approval of new policies that include a new type of “weapon” and how to appropriately address patients, visitors and even other employees who may become combative with this type of technology.

Since TASER does not provide specific policy recommendations to law enforcement agencies, hospital administrators will need to provide their own guidelines. While this sounds daunting, numerous hospitals willingly share their policies. TASER can provide references upon request so hospital security staffs can address common concerns and share insights with hospitals new to electronic control devices.

2. What type of training is recommended/required specifically for hospital security officers?

First, the hospital will need a security member to become a certified TASER instructor. This instructor becomes the trainer for the individual users at the hospital. Instructors are provided with an end user certification course. User recertification is required annually.

The process for becoming an instructor includes taking an online training course prior to a two-day/16-hour class. This course covers the safe operation of electronic control devices via a lengthy PowerPoint presentation, which includes videos, practical firings and hands on use, scenario-based deployments and a written test. The instructor certification is valid for two years.

Secondly, just like law enforcement agencies, hospital security command staff will need to formulate best practices, policies and training procedures, based on the input of the trained TASER instructor. Moreover, electronic control device deployments must be must be legally justifiable and in accordance with applicable federal, state and local laws, and other regulations or legal requirements.

While use of force policies must meet hospital guidelines, in many cases, these policies are also based on community standards and the varying levels of the types of responses available to the security department. Hospital security will need to work with hospital administrators to ensure the new policies meet guidelines set forth by governing standards and the owners of the hospital.

Again, conferring with other hospitals that already deploy stun guns can reduce the learning curve in setting up a program.

3. What about specific training for healthcare settings?

In addition to standard training, specialized training in handling sensitive patient situations may be considered to ensure that when force is necessary, all means to handle the situation have been utilized.

Many law enforcement agencies now supplement their officers’ skill sets with crisis intervention training. Similarly, ACEP’s Research Forum Abstract titled, “Evaluation of the Use of the TASER and Elevated Force to Control Workplace Violence in a Health Care Environment,” recommends that hospitals include “staff education for early identification of potentially violent persons and initial approaches but allows for the use of TASER in select situations.”

Thus, hospital security should train on issues specific to their environment based upon the guidelines that the TASER instructor and hospital administrators have issued as part of their protocols. For example, hospital security may find it necessary to address issues related to identifying warning signs of violence and techniques that can be used to respond appropriately to varying levels of assaultive behavior.

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