Security Plans Mandatory at California Hospitals On July 1

SACRAMENTO, Calif.

California hospitals will need to meet additional security requirements beginning July 1, under the terms of a law that was revised to improve security in emergency rooms.

The revisions to Assembly Bill (AB) 1083, which were approved by the state Legislature in June, require hospitals to annually review and update their security and safety assessment plans to help ensure patients and workers don’t become victims of acts of aggression and violence while inside the healthcare facility. (Article continues below.)

Additional changes require updates to the training of security personnel, greater cooperation with local law enforcement and consultation with employees and their unions.

Legislation Will Lead to Better Training

AB1083 requires that security personnel receive eight hours of hospital-specific training prior to assignment at the facility. These changes are a welcome upgrade to security of emergency rooms, which are often high-profile entry points for people with myriad problems and concerns, said Joel Wiesner, a senior account manager with Kaiser Permanente in West Los Angeles and consultant holding CPP and CHPA certification.

“I am a huge advocate of training,” Wiesner said. “This bill is headed in the right direction. It’s going to enable better and more training for the officers and hospital staff assigned to the emergency room.”

As a related measure, Wiesner helped re-launch the southern California chapter of the International Association for Healthcare Security and Safety (IAHSS) in the fall to work on initiatives, such as training and how the group can work with other healthcare professionals, including nurses and safety managers.

Wiesner and other hospital security experts support the amendments, saying they will require hospitals to better cooperate with external as well as internal partners on security initiatives.

As part of that collaboration, hospitals will need to approach their local law enforcement agency to request a crime index report for the past year that lists the number of murders, burglaries, rapes and other crimes in the neighborhood surrounding the hospital.

Larger hospitals can ask their local law enforcement agency to create a statistical zone, or footprint, for just the campus so they’ll have their own follow-up statistics. A CAP Index report, which Wiesner recommends, can also help hospitals with crime forecasting and security risk analysis.

Security Consultants Should be Certified

Hospital security directors who don’t have an existing security assessment for their facility will need to get one done.

With the increased legislative scrutiny of hospital security assessments, directors will need to carefully evaluate who is preparing the written plan. Typically, assessments are prepared by the in-house director, security consultant or third-party provider of security personnel.

If a consultant or contract security company is used, directors should ensure they have one of two certifications – the CPP (Certified Protection Professional) from ASIS International or CHPA (Certified Healthcare Protection Administrator) from IAHSS.

Using a contract security company that’s already under contract isn’t a good idea, Wiesner says, because of the inherent conflict of interest.

Consider Adopting a 3-Year Plan

Preparing the assessment will require budgetary justification, a consideration that becomes even more pressing in difficult economic times.

Asking an administrative council or facility director for funding for the plan because it’s “mandated by law” may not be enough, healthcare security consultant Lewis Schatz writes in a briefing report.

“That is well and good, but the CEO also has mandates for seismic retrofitting, nursing staffing levels and now a security assessment,” Schatz writes. “Here is how it’s going to go down in a tough financial environment: You lose!”

A three-year plan may be an easier pitch; that way security directors can do the assessment in the first year and build in steps that make it easy to update themselves in the second and third years.

Exhaustively documenting the regulatory and legal requirements necessitating the plan will help directors secure funding.

Abide by AB1083 or Go to Jail (Maybe)

As a communication and control bill, AB1083 isn’t just making gentle suggestions. As sponsored by Assemblyman John A. Perez (D-Los Angeles), this one has teeth. Security directors could be arrested for failing to complete the security assessment. It’s not likely to happen, because they usually don’t have budgetary powers, Schatz says, but they could be fired.

The bill may be a tool for the union to negotiate safer working conditions, but it should be viewed as an opportunity for more open communication with workers. Consider sending a security representative to the union’s safety committee once you have your supervisor’s approval.

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Tips for Effective Implementation of AB1083

Lewis Schatz, a healthcare security consultant with CHPA and CPP certifications, suggests these steps to comply with new requirements:

  • Commit to complete a security assessment.
  • Develop your security plan with the security/safety committee.
  • Get senior management’s approval of the plan.
  • Request funding for an outside security assessor at least every 3 years.
  • Do the second and third year assessment yourself if no funding is available.
  • Update your safety committee each year.
  • Post the plan/statistics in your office and invite employees to read it.
  • Keep the campus updated about events with a newsletter.
  • Keep the de-escalation training updated and offer frequent classes.

Paul Clinton is the Web editor for Campus Safety. He can be reached at [email protected]

Photo via Zoomar/Flickr

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