When you make a list of the most dangerous jobs in America, you would probably go a long way before you got to nurses. But the sad truth is that hospitals are becoming increasingly more violent and one security products company is taking an active role in providing help through wireless technology.
According to a study published last November by the Emergency Nurses Association, the frequency of physical or verbal abuse reported by nurses was an astounding 54% and patients were the perpetrators in nearly all of these incidents. Drugs, alcohol, or psychiatric problems were generally the cause and the study paints a grim picture of medical facilities across the country.
In fact, healthcare workers are four times more likely to be victims of workplace violence than those in any other industry. Far from being quiet places of healing, our nation’s hospitals are becoming outright war zones.
A company called Inovonics is offering “enterprise mobile duress pendants,” small wireless transmitters that can clip onto a nurse’s wrist or uniform. If a nurse encounters trouble, by simply pressing a button on the device, an alert is sent immediately to hospital security which pinpoints the location. They don’t know exactly what’s going on, only that one of the hospital’s staff is in trouble. “It’s life safety wireless,” explains Mark Jarman, President of Inovonics.
Although Inovonics has been providing technology products for the commercial building market since 1986, they only started offering these emergency pendant device systems, named Radius, in hospitals about eighteen months ago. According to Jarman, Radius is selling quite well as hospitals seek protection for their employees from their own patients. “We have been surprised by the sales cycle,” says Jarman.
At the recently concluded ISC West security technology conference in Las Vegas, Inovonics announced a new client (the Avera Queen of Peace Hospital in South Dakota). The company also has installed their systems in two large medical centers in New York. “We’re building awareness around the problem of workplace violence,” says Eric Banghart, a business development manager for Inovonics.
While there may be some skeptics who doubt that hospital violence has become so serious that nurses need this technology to protect them, recent statistics tell a different story. Researchers at Emory University found one childrens’ hospital that confiscated over 3,700 weapons in eight months. A quarter of all nurses have been assaulted more than 20 times in the past three years.
More chilling is that these numbers are going up as new studies emerge. With statistics like these, it’s easy to understand how security technology is playing an increasingly important role in protecting hospital staff being confronted by a more violent world inside their walls than what may await them outside.