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Hospital Shootings Rare, But Preparedness Still Warranted

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, September 24, 2012

Bryan Warren, president of the International Association for Healthcare Security & Safety, tells HealthLeaders Media that every hospital should undergo an annual or biannual security assessment by a qualified expert. "The first thing is have someone come in and look at what you've got and do a gap analysis versus best practices and regulatory standards," says Warren. "What are the must-haves, should-haves and like-to-haves?"

Warren, who is also senior manager for corporate security at Charlotte, NC-based Carolinas HealthCare System, says the report correctly notes that no hospital is too small to ignore the security of patients, visitors, and employees.

"You need to have a professional well-trained knowledgeable security staff on board," he says. "If you have a 25-bed critical access hospital out in the middle of somewhere can you afford to have the same level of security as a 1,500-bed urban hospital? No. I'm not saying that. But you do need to have a dedicated professional to at least help assist in setting up your program and you need to follow some of the best practices."

After years of mistakenly thinking that hospitals are sanctuaries from violence, many federal and state officials are coming to realize that hospital security has not been given the attention it deserves. Warren says attitudes changed when the Department of Homeland Security included hospitals on its critical infrastructures list.

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