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Think carefully before using security officers to monitor high-risk patients

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September 1, 2019

By A.J. Plunkett (aplunkett@decisionhealth.com)

As CMS, The Joint Commission and other accrediting organizations continue their focus on preventing suicide risk, some facilities are turning to their security department for help.

If your hospital is considering using its security officers or police as sitters for patients at high risk of self-harm, make sure the conversation includes the need for resources to ensure the officers are trained and can show competency in CMS requirements regarding appropriate seclusion and restraint (S/R). They also should fully understand their role as a one-on-one observer.

Probably the best practice, however, is not to use them at all, say experts.

If your hospital does decide to use officers in one-on-one observation, explain to your C-suite that they must invest in the training and continuous oversight of those officers. CMS is calling out hospitals when officers use inappropriate S/R methods or when they are used as observers because other staff were not available (for examples, see p. xyxyxXYxyy).

Your hospital must also maintain the integrity of overall hospital security when a security officer is otherwise assigned, says a new policy guideline, “Security Role in High-Risk Patient Watches,” made available in June by the International Association for Healthcare Security & Safety (IAHSS).

As CMS, The Joint Commission and other accrediting organizations continue their focus on preventing suicide risk, some facilities are turning to their security department for help.



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