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Improving Safety and Security in Health Care

The safety and security of physicians and patients are pressing concerns that are broadened significantly when considering the same issues as they relate to all caregivers, support staff and the visitors that enter health facilities every day.

A threat that can’t be ignored

Cyberthreats related to digital health, including the theft of protected health information, the denial of services and other violations of privacy will require continuous assessments of risk as the technology changes rapidly. The value of private health information is high and the routes to access that information could be through any of a number of networked systems. The International Association for Health Care Security & Safety (IAHSS), in developing guidance related to security systems, risk assessments and investigations, believes that addressing these issues requires collaboration in the selection, management and maintenance of systems that are intended to protect the physical environment while potentially creating a weakness in the network. Security systems including cameras, access control and alert systems, and the infrastructure that supports them, should be incorporated into mitigation strategies that are identified in the design of new systems, new space, renovations of existing space and corrective action plans from incidents that have occurred, or from vulnerabilities identified during risk assessments.

IAHSS has done significant research related to the amount of violence in health care. The effort has looked broadly at patients and visitors, clinical and support staff, and internal and external responders, as well as issues generated from within and outside the health care facility. IAHSS has focused on the collaboration and training that should be in place to address these issues. This body of work has reinforced the need to assess risk and vulnerability regularly and to do so when incidents occur to take advantage of lessons learned. This approach will allow us to improve and strengthen each facility’s ability to provide a safe and secure environment for all patients, visitors and staff. Doing so, and including the risks associated with digital health, requires the input and output of those that manage physical and digital security so that comprehensive and coordinated solutions are implemented.

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