Security Theater: Avoid It

Those of us in healthcare security leadership must do our best, based on best practices and industry standards (as well as our own innovative, forward-thinking, ideations) to create safer workplaces. We must both create safety AND help people feel safer. The two sometimes do not arrive together.

We may do something very fundamental such as assess an area and then, for instance, based on the identified risks, lock doors that were not previously locked or install new video surveillance where there was previously none. We have then potentially created safer conditions. However, if we do not inform, orient, and educate Team Members about these new locking and surveillance items (and the associated protocols), then we have done little to help Team Members feel safer. To help marry the two together (creating safer conditions and helping Team Members to feel safer), we should deploy the new locking and surveillance technology and inform, orient, and educate all Team Members about them.

Let’s say an incident occurs where, for example, a Nurse is assaulted. We should review and assess all the associated policies and practices having to do with this incident. Ideally, we should be a collaborative partner in a multi-disciplinary root cause analysis (RCA).

Out of this RCA, we decide to deploy an additional Security Team Member in the area in which this Nurse was assaulted. Nothing else is done, save placing a Security Team Member in this area.

Have you likely caused Nursing Team Members and even your own Security Team Members to perceive that conditions are now safer? You likely have. Are conditions actually safer? If all you have done is place a Security Team Member in an area, with no transformation of other policies and protocols (such as Nursing training, medication maintenance, medical record flagging, intake/registration processes, Security Team Member post orders, and waiting room milieu management, just to name a few), then you likely have not created safer conditions.

You’re now guilty of creating security theater. You’ve certainly caused others to think conditions are safer, but really you’ve only created an expensive (staffing) security pageant that does little to nothing to actually help abate Nurse assaults.

It’s vital when we’re putting into action our always-limited budgets to fully and accurately assess the needs and what actually brings measurable benefits. A little action with well-informed knowledge can help us steer clear of expensive, look-at-us, less-than-useful security theater.

Action with ignorance = security theater.

Until later…

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