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We write articles mainly about visitor management, which helps you to know who is (or has been) in your facility. It is just part of an organization’s physical security processes that protect people and property within and around a building or campus.

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5 reasons to use visitor badges for your hospital visitor identification

by Paul Kazlauskas

hospital security; visitor management

Hospital visitor management is essential for today’s facilities. The concept behind utilizing a visitor management system is the desire to keep patients, employees, visitors, and the facility itself safe from harm. Hospitals should know who is entering and exiting their facility to protect from liability if an incident occurs. The hospital setting provides some unique reasons why using visitor badges and a visitor management system is more critical for security than other types of industries.

1. Hospitals are filled with vulnerable people
It makes perfect sense that the majority of people in hospitals aren’t at their best. Obviously, patients are in the facility because there is something medically wrong. The people who are visiting the patients are feeling empathy for their friend or loved one, distracted from their regular daily life, and perhaps are even under stress because of the patient’s stay. Plus, hospital employees are some of the most stressed and tired workers in any industry with pressure to take care of sick patients and work long hours. All of these groups of people in hospitals have other things on their minds besides their personal safety. The vulnerability of all types of people in the hospital makes it important that these people are kept safe at all times and documenting visitors is a good first step in security.

2. Increased security confidence
Using visitor badges allows hospitals to know who is in the facility. If an unknown person is walking down a hallway and they are wearing a visitor badge, hospital employees know that person has been registered and is allowed to be there. The visitor badge is a great visual alert. To improve that visual alert, many hospitals are using expiring visitor badges that change color overnight to prevent badge reuse. The visitor badge looks like a regular badge while the visitor is in the facility. However, by the next day, a bright pink “VOID” shows on the badge, meaning the visitor should be questioned about their presence in the building.

expiring visitor badges

When a hospital’s policy is to have employees and visitors wear badges, anyone who isn’t is recognized as an unauthorized visitor and stopped before they get too far.

3. Identify various types of visitors
With a little planning, hospitals can utilize their visitor badges to identify the specific type of visitor any given person is. Much like the badge being a visual alert (mentioned above), the badge can convey other specifics, like the type of visitor the person is. Hospitals can consider these types of commonly used titles for badges:

  • Visitor
  • Vendor
  • Contractor
  • Outpatient
  • Volunteer
  • Clergy

Security personnel (or any vigilant hospital employee) can know at a glance and question if a volunteer is found in the boiler room or a vendor is found in the emergency room. On the occasion a visitor is in scrubs, a visitor badge will also help identify the visitor as opposed to mistaking them for a hospital employee. We blogged about one specific incident like this where there was a security breach in a Boston hospital in 2017.

When a hospital has a visitor identification policy with visitor badges that specify where a visitor is allowed to go (such as the Maternity floor or ICU), then the visitor has much less freedom to go in areas of the facility where they don’t belong.

4. Hospitals usually have multiple points of entry
In the past, hospitals were single buildings. Having to manage security for a single building was a lot easier that the current hospital facility model. Today, bustling hospitals are more like college campuses than single-building operations. Each part of these campuses comes with its own entrances and exits, creating a variety of opportunities for people with negative intentions to enter the facility. Occasionally, these multiple campus buildings are connected by walkways and/or tunnels, and hospitals can’t afford to have even one unguarded point of entry. With so many people coming and going, visitor identification is key. Multiple entries means multiple threats, so staffing each door with a visitor management system and requiring visitors wear visitor badges are great processes for decreasing vulnerabilities.

5. Hospitals are reliant on successfully welcoming guests
If a business decides one day that it isn’t accepting visitors anymore, it’s not likely to create a stir. However, if a hospital decided that guests were no longer welcome, it may have trouble getting patients. The hospital reputation will decline (especially in this age of social media) and most likely will cease to be in business in the near future. You can’t have a hospital without having visitors. Since visitors are a necessary element of any hospital setting, using a visitor badge to identify everyone makes good business sense (and security sense too).

Join the conversation
Why else should hospitals use visitor badges to identify all their visitor traffic? Please add your thoughts in the “Comments” section below.

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Posted on 3/8/2019

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