We pride ourselves on the high degree of self-monitoring built in to Stanley Healthcare Solution’s Patient Security products for protecting high-risk patients from abduction, flight, wandering, etc.
These systems continually monitor battery level in tags, device status and other aspects of the system, and generate automatic alerts to warn users of a problem.
However, it is still necessary to implement a regular process of testing and drills to ensure that the system works at an optimal level. These activities really apply to patient security systems from all manufacturers.
All aspects of the system’s operation should be tested regularly. Test each exit with a real tag, to check that alarms are properly generated in the software. It’s important to look at peripheral equipment as well, like magnetic door looks: do they engage when a tag approaches the door? What about any sounders or other annunciation devices? Do they activate as expected during an alarm?
Also review coverage of receiver devices, to make sure that tag signals are detected throughout the protected area.
The system database is a rich repository of information of what has happened in the system. Get into the habit of running reports on alarms and other events. This can help show up problems, like a high number of nuisance alarms on one particular shift – an indication that refresher training may be needed.
Many hospitals run regular drills to test how staff members will respond to a real incident. After all, in the end the system is only a tool – it is the people who use it who make the real difference.
Try to make your scenarios as realistic as possible – for example, trying to smuggle a “baby” out in a large handbag. If possible, it should start as a surprise, although everyone needs to be informed that it is only a drill. You don’t want the police showing up on you!
It’s also important to involve all parties in the testing – Nursing, Security, anyone who has a role to play in patient security (and that should be just about everyone). In all likelihood, the pretend abductor will be caught before she/he gets off the unit. But your policy probably has backup procedures in case an abductor gets passed this first line of defense – so keep the drill going to test each layer in turn.
Finally, a debrief immediately after is the best way to captures ideas for improvement, which you can then use to further refine your procedures. You’ll be even better prepared should you ever have to deal with the Real Thing.