“Piggybacking” or “tailgating” – when an employee holds a door to a secure area for an unauthorized individual, or simply doesn’t realize who is following them into the area – is one of the most common security issues at hospitals nationwide. To address this challenge, BWH Communication & Public Affairs, in partnership with BWH Security leadership, has launched a campaign to raise awareness of the dangers to staff, patients, visitors and property that can occur when employees are not aware of others who may follow them into restricted areas.
“It is vitally important for all employees to be aware of everyone in our environment and to ensure that no one accesses our restricted areas without permission,” said Dave Corbin, director of Security & Parking at BWH. “This campaign is meant to educate and empower our employees so that they can be part of the solution. When everyone is vigilant, we have a force of 18,000 people helping to ensure that BWH is a safe and secure place for everyone we serve.”
At the heart of the campaign are two dramatic videos that depict some of the worst-case-scenarios that could occur if an unauthorized visitor gains access to restricted areas of the hospital.
“We intended for the videos to be provocative, to invoke a strong reaction, so that they would be memorable,” said Erin McDonough, chief communication officer and senior vice president of Communication & Public Affairs at BWH. “In hospitals and health care organizations, we work in a culture where our first instinct is to help others. Closing a door to someone feels uncomfortable and impolite, and it contradicts what many of us have been taught from a young age. We need our staff to know the potentially dangerous consequences of enabling people who do not have permission to access restricted areas – whether consciously or unconsciously – and give them tools that empower them to take action.”
In addition to the videos, signage will be installed at the point where unauthorized access happens – on the 1,200 card readers or locked doors inside the hospital and at the exterior entrances – that prompts people to be aware.
The hospital is also implementing two updated policies that outline the actions that employees must take if they find themselves being followed by someone who is unauthorized to access a restricted area: question the person or contact Security. Employees will be provided with reminder cards that affix to their hospital identification badges and provide guidance for how to respond to someone following them using Stop, Challenge, Assist.
Because this is a challenge that nearly all hospitals face, all elements of the campaign are being shared widely outside of BWH.
Hospital security directors locally and internationally will receive the videos for their use through the International Association of Healthcare Safety and Security. They will also be shared online at www.brighamandwomens.org/AwareBecauseWeCare, through the hospital’s social media channels, and with associations and groups that represent and accredit hospitals.
Internally, hospital employees will participate in screenings of the video, followed by scenarios that the Security Team will role play and a question and answer session.
“We are hopeful that this campaign will have an enduring affect on our employees,” Corbin said. “People who work in the health care setting have a natural inclination to help others. Our campaign emphasizes that being aware is one of the best ways for them to ensure the wellbeing of patients, their families and each other.”
Watch the videos: