Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ stance on weapon use in hospitals is clear: the use of weapons in the application of restraint, or even seclusion for that matter, is inappropriate for any healthcare intervention. On the other hand, a weapon may be used as part of a law enforcement action, not a healthcare intervention, to protect people from harm. Inasmuch as a patient has the right to a safe environment for their care, a clinician has the same right to provide that care in a safe environment. As security officers enlisted to help and serve others, part of our job is to ensure that people do not harm themselves or others.
Ideally, security officers are called in before a confrontation escalates. A greeting by a security officer may be enough to deter an anxious person from becoming aggressive. Other times, a person is already physically violent; throwing punches throwing objects, or grabbing people by the time security is called, and security personnel must respond immediately to intervene within the context of a law enforcement action. In all cases, our goal is to mitigate a threat by using the minimum force appropriate for the situation.
Understanding CMS rules about the use of weapons frees a hospital to determine which response strategy is right for them.
Typically, a security professional is brought in to conduct a comprehensive risk assessment: she looks at historical confrontations; surveys the physical environment to ensure it is safe; and audits the incidence of criminal activities in the surrounding areas to better understand their impacts within the hospital campus. At this stage, the hospital can determine whether the deployment of non-lethal or less-than-lethal response tools has a place in its use of force continuum.
Conversations about violence in hospitals can help the hospital security director communicate to C-Suite executives exactly what he needs to do to ensure the safest environment possible for the hospital. Want to learn more? Join Mass General Hospital’s Bonnie Michelman, Securitas’ Paul White, HSS’ Tony York and me for the free virtual panel, Decoding the CMS Rule Book for Dealing with Violent Patients on Thursday, April 30 at 2 pm ET.
Guardian 8 COO Paul Hughes will be on hand to moderate the discussion. We’ll talk about the impacts of CMS regulations on hospital security and best practices for evaluating risk mitigation and response strategies. We’ll also survey newly available intermediate response options for security officers and discuss what needs to be covered when training security personnel in unarmed, intermediate and armed response.
You are welcome to submit your questions in the comments section below, within the IAHSS LinkedIn Group, or during the panel.
We look forward to dialoguing with you!
National Director, Healthcare Security Services
Universal Protection Service