Improving Security in Your Emergency Department

Improving Security in Your Emergency Department

Imagine if you could improve staff retention in your emergency department by adding security solutions that make everyone feel safer and better protected. What if those same security solutions could help you reduce costs and enable your clinicians to focus on what they do best – care for patients?

In modern emergency departments, specialized screening systems prevent attacks, self-service kiosks streamline check-ins, and proactive alerts are issued for possible threats. Keep reading to learn about how the latest security solutions will benefit your hospital and where they should be implemented. To best explain the systems available to your team, we have split up the emergency department in these 3 zones:

1.) Emergency Department Entry & Waiting Room

2.) Emergency Department & Patient Rooms

3.) Emergency Department Perimeter

1.) Emergency Department Entry & Waiting Room


Entry Surveillance

New security cameras with advanced video analytics can provide better protection at your emergency department entry points. These systems will immediately alert staff when a patient arrives that has caused problems on past visits or when new threats occur like someone approaching the hospital in an aggressive manner/carrying a weapon.

Visitor Management



You can’t protect your staff and patients if you do not know who is inside your hospital. Enacting visitor management policies, procedures, and systems will give you visibility into who is coming into the building and what their purpose is for being there. These systems can also allow you to identify people with warrants or that are known sex offenders who may pose a greater risk.



Self Check-In Kiosk & Digital Wayfinding



Self Check-in Kiosks help enable a seamless experience for patient registration and can reduce the amount of staff needed within the emergency department. When executed well, these systems can also reduce waiting room time by integrating with your hospital’s website and other systems. Patients are able to register for treatment online and then they are alerted on their mobile device when they are ready to be seen. These kiosks and mobile check-in experiences can also provide guidance on where the patient should go within the facility to be treated.

Weapons Detection

Weapons screening systems are essential for discovering guns, knives, razor blades, and other potentially harmful items people may try to bring into the hospital. These systems can be boldly displayed to help deter potential attackers or be blended into your facility so they do not negatively impact the patient experience. Both approaches will provide a much needed layer of protection for clinicians, patients, and guests.

Lobby Surveillance

Patients and visitors can become agitated quickly during their wait. To effectively monitor for potential violent outbreaks, you need surveillance coverage that gives you visibility to every area within the lobby/waiting room. You can get greater visibility with less IT infrastructure (switch capacity and data outlets) with strategically placed multi-sensor cameras versus single sensor cameras sporadically placed throughout the area. Adding A.I. based analytics to automatically detect when an attack is likely or someone crossing into a security sensitive area is also highly recommended in the emergency department due to the greater likelihood of an attack. 

2.) Emergency Department & Patient Rooms

Wearable Duress Button



Instant access to discrete duress alarms is invaluable in the emergency department where violence can erupt without warning. Giving clinicians this ability to request immediate assistance when they feel threatened will make them feel better protected and cared for by their leadership. The wearable duress devices also provide security staff with the exact location of the person requesting assistance so they can respond directly to the location of the incident. Reducing response times helps prevent loss of life and mitigate injuries.

Electronic Access Control

New advancements in access control systems allow for contactless and biometric based access to secure areas in the emergency department. With situations in the ED changing rapidly, these access control system features can improve clinical workflows and help address burnout.

Audio and Video Analytics

Audio and Video Analytics make your surveillance systems smarter and are a force multiplier for your team. Security staff is immediately alerted if shouting or threatening language and/or movements (punching, swinging arms, jumping up and down) are detected in the department. This proactive approach enables attacks to be prevented and reduces response times during any attacks. 

Risk Insight

Flagging patients that pose risks to staff, monitoring threats on social media, and keeping an eye on department surveillance is all done at the risk insight desk.  Paying close attention to each of these things allows emergency department staff to proactively respond to issues before they escalate.

Remote Patient Observation

Empower your clinicians with the ability to monitor patients remotely from their nursing station. This lessens staff exposure to infectious diseases and also gives nurses a way to monitor patients with mental health issues without having to be dangerously close to the patient for each interaction.  2-way audio and video is also available so conversations can be had with the patient without direct contact.

Nurse Desk Duress Button

Nurse desk duress buttons allow staff to quickly alert security if a violent event happens within the department. This can reduce response times during an attack and mitigate injuries to staff and damage to the department.

3.) Emergency Department Perimeter

Smart Speakers

Combining smart speakers with video analytics can reduce the number of times security staff is dispatched to problematic areas. If you have an area where smoking and loitering is prohibited, a camera can detect any violation and the speaker can play a customized message asking for people to not smoke in the area. The same can be done in a no parking area if a car is detected in a place it is not supposed to be. Security operators can also make live announcements and requests through the speakers for special situations. 

Perimeter Monitoring

Having cameras in and around the parking area of your emergency department is critical. These camera views give you visibility into what issues could spill over into your department from your parking areas.  If a disgruntled spouse or family member of a patient or staff member arrives on site and is approaching with intent for harm, your camera systems will give you an early warning. The early warnings automatically alert security teams so they can preemptively respond to the potential attack or remotely lockdown an area.

Video Analytics

Video analytics help your security staff monitor what is happening around your emergency department and provide alerts when potential threats arise. People are not built to constantly view video feeds to identify threats but new A.I. solutions are trained to detect specific patterns and events.  Video analytics can detect if someone has crossed into a no trespassing zone, left a bag behind, or any other number of potentially risky behaviors.

See Where Your Hospital Can Improve With a Security Technology Assessment

Advancements in security technology are allowing hospitals to make good on their commitment to provide the highest quality patient care and safety. And a new wave of healthcare executives have agreed that the security guard alone can not live up to today’s security needs. 

It is time to consider a security technology assessment to see what your hospital is doing well, where you can improve, and how you can customize security technology to fit your hospital’s specific needs. Contact HSJ to receive more information on an assessment and the process to upgrade your security technology.

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