In order to continually ensure the safety of its patients, and in response to increased violence in emergency rooms across the country, the Emergency Care Center at Nash Health Care began installation of metal detectors the week of May 24.
"Fortunately, violence at the Nash Health Care Emergency Care Center is a relatively rare occurrence, but we want to be proactive and take extra steps to aid security, and prevent a problem before it starts," said Larry Chewning, CEO of Nash Health Care. "It is unfortunate that we need to install metal detectors at a facility citizens come to for help, but the safety of our patients, visitors, and the health care professionals who care for them, must remain our first priority."
The Joint Commission, an accreditation organization for health care facilities, reported that there were 261 assaults, homicides and sexual assaults at medical facilities nationwide between 1996 and 2009.
Emergency rooms may have increased incidents of violence because people who are being treated there may be under the effects of drugs or alcohol. If a patient is a victim of violence, it is possible that the perpetrators may try to gain access to cause additional harm, said Allison Manning-Williams, manager of the Emergency Care Center.
"Emergency department employees are at high risk of workplace violence. Many emergency rooms are at an increased risk because they are open 24-hours, many are overcrowded, and patients and family members may be experiencing extreme stress," Manning-Williams said.
"The Emergency Nurses Association has encouraged hospitals to adopt a ‘zero tolerance' policy on violence for everyone's safety. While we have always had security at the Nash Health Care Emergency Care Center, the metal detector provides an additional layer of security not just for employees, but for those in the waiting room and their families," she added.
The American College of Emergency Physicians suggests that hospital emergency departments install medical detectors and point to the effectiveness of the detectors at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit. In the first six months of the screening operation at Henry Ford Hospital, 33 handguns, 1,324 knives, and 97 Mace sprays were confiscated.
"Sadly, emergency rooms across the country are experiencing an increase in violence. We recognize that the installation of a metal detector may not be a popular decision, but we believe it is necessary to continue to provide a safe, secure environment for our patients and employees. Their safety will always remain our top priority," Chewning said.