A new Joint Commission Sentinel Event Alert warns that health care facilities today are being confronted with steadily increasing rates of crime, and urges greater attention to the issue of controlling access to facilities.

Assault, rape, and homicide are consistently in the top 10 types of serious events reported to The Joint Commission.

To prevent violence in health care facilities, The Joint Commission’s Sentinel Event Alert newsletter suggests that facilities take a series of 13 specific steps, including:

  • Evaluate the facility’s risk for violence examining the campus, reviewing crime rates and surveying employees about their  perceptions of risk;
  • Take extra security precautions in the emergency department, such as adding uniformed security guards, scanning people entering the building for  weapons, and inspecting bags; and
  • Report crime to law enforcement.

In addition, The Joint Commission urges hospitals to comply with the requirements described in its accreditation standards to prevent violence.  The standards require accredited health care facilities to have a security plan as well as conduct violence risk assessments, develop strategies to prevent violence, and have a response plan when a violent episode occurs.