In the past hospitals were not a big target for thieves, but it appears that has now changed. There is evidence that they are now a target of both professional and opportunist thieves. Things became so bad in one UK hospital that they took the step of chaining toys to cots in the children’s ward because so many toys were being stolen.
Naturally, cash strapped health facilities are having to respond to this change and are doing so in a range of ways. Here is an overview of the main steps they are taking.
The use of advanced staff ID systems
One way thieves target hospitals is by masquerading as staff. These days, it is not difficult to buy a uniform and gain access to most areas of a hospital by pretending you are a member of staff.
As a result, hospitals are having to rely heavily on staff identification systems to help them to determine whether someone is a genuine member of staff or not. Access to modern printers makes it relatively easy for imposters to make good replicas of ID cards. As a result, printed lanyards for NHS staff are being used as well. They feature complex designs, which are hard for an imposter to get replicated. This reduced the chances of an imposter getting away with using a fake ID. Without the correct lanyard, it is immediately obvious to the other members of staff that a person is an imposter, so security can be called.
Many hospitals are now also imbedding RF tags and other security features into ID cards. This allows them to install access control on doors in sensitive areas, for example, where drugs are stored.
When someone, who does not have the right ID card, tries to open that door, he or she is unable to do so. This security measure is reducing rates of drug and equipment theft.
More security guards
Many hospitals are also hiring bigger security teams. They are using a mix of uniformed and plain-clothes personnel to catch thieves in the act.
CCTV and head cams
Using CCTV, any suspicious people can be tracked through the hospital. If someone runs when stopped and challenged, they can be picked up on the cameras, followed and stopped. Security staff are also wearing head cams to allow them to collect evidence that can be used when the police are called.
RF tagging equipment
Hospital equipment is extremely expensive and it is being targeted by thieves. Unfortunately, some of the people that are stealing equipment work in the hospital, so it is difficult to stop them. In addition, some equipment has to be close at hand for use in an emergency, so it cannot be locked away.
However, an improvement in active RFID tagging technology is providing a partial solution. Traditionally RF tags have been used within the building to help staff to quickly locate pieces of specialist equipment. This has cut down on the time spent looking for equipment that is shared between wards and departments. This technology is now being adapted to alert the system when the tag goes offline, which can include when a piece of equipment is taken outside of the range of the readers inside the hospital. This allows the hospital security team to quickly check exit CCTV footage and stop the theft or give information to the police almost immediately the item is taken.