Since 2004, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has recommended that hospitals install shatter-proof and bullet resistant windows at nurses’ stations, in reception, and in triage and admitting areas.
OSHA has identified three factors that make hospitals an especially risky work environment: 24-hour access, increased use of hospitals to handle mental health patients who otherwise cannot find treatment, and law enforcement use of hospitalization to contain aggressive and intoxicated individuals. Installing bullet proof windows makes it possible for hospitals to address these issues and increase security without degrading services.
THE NEED FOR BULLET PROOF WINDOWS IN MODERN HOSPITALS
It’s hard to dispute that hospitals are indeed becoming increasingly violent. According to the American Hospital Association and the Joint Commission (an independent, not-for-profit hospital accreditation and certification organization) 280 in-hospital assaults, homicides, and rapes were reported during the 17-year-period spanning 1995 to 2012. They noted that not only have these events been occurring with a greater frequency–roughly half were reported in the last five years–but that this violence is significantly underreported: the Joint Commission’s incidence database only covers 26 states and Washington, D.C., and reporting to the commission is entirely voluntary.
A more accurate picture of hospital violence comes from surveys conducted by the International Association for Healthcare Security (which include more than 200 hospitals and specifically ask about violent incidences). IAHS’s 2010 survey found in-hospital crime rising across the board, with a total of 3,380 assaults in 2009 alone. This trend continued in 2012, with 98 percent of the healthcare facilities surveyed having experienced violence and criminal incidents.
INSTALLING BULLET RESISTANT WINDOWS IN THE E.R.
“We definitely see an increasing need for bullet resistant windows in emergency room areas and receptions areas,” explains Total Security Solutions vice president Jim Richards–a bullet proof system designer and fabricator with decades of experience installing systems in municipal and hospital facilities. “Typically, these are larger hospitals or in the larger cities; they bring in people from all walks of life, off the street, to one area. These are people in very stressful situations, and it’s easy for tempers to flare. If two guys get in a dispute and start shooting and both get injured, they’ll both end up in the same ER together. That’s a recipe for disaster.”
In order to address this Jim advocates both active measures (such as integrating small police “command centers” into E.R. facilities) and defensive measures. Installing Bullet proof windows at reception areas and encapsulating the emergency room will contain the most volatile elements. Statistically, these are the areas where violence is most likely to occur.
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