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Enterprise Mobile Duress: A Mobile 'Panic Button' for Healthcare Providers

By Carlton Purvis

Last fall, the Emergency Nurses Association (ENA) released data from an ongoing survey aimed at assessing the prevalence of violence against emergency room nurses. The study surveyed more than 7,000 nurses nationwide. Thirteen percent of nurses surveyed reported experiencing physical violence in past seven days. More than three-quarters (82 percent) of incidents of physical violence occurred in a patient’s room. Twenty-four percent occurred in a corridor, hallway, stairwell, or elevator.

The study found that only one environmental control measure (ECM) was tied to lower odds of physical violence against nurses. It wasn’t bulletproof glass or enclosed nurses’ stations. It wasn’t mirrors placed in hidden places or security signage. “Only one ECM was significantly associated with lower odds of physical violence--panic button/silent alarm,” according to the study.

For National Hospital Week (May 6-12), Security Management recently interviewed Mark Jarman, president and CEO of Inovonics, a company that produces high-performance wireless sensor networks for commercial and life safety applications. Jarman, who has more than 20 years’ experience in the security and wireless industries, spoke on the benefits of enterprise mobile duress systems in healthcare settings and how EMD technology expands on the concept of having a panic button.

What is an Enterprise Mobile Duress System?

True EMD is different than what people typically call a panic alarm button because with mobile duress they have the ability to send an alarm from anywhere in a building and throughout the same workplace. Further, it’s not just being able to capture that there is an alarm, but also brings responders to that place because of the ability to locate where the mobile device was pushed.

Those are some of the key features of Radius (an EMD solution by Inovonics)--with a mobile button you can cover large premises and locate that alarm event and, through a variety of adaptive notification methods, indicate where security officials should respond on-site.

Why is this system beneficial in a hospital setting?

The hospital is an environment where it all can happen. You can have overcrowding, understaffed workplaces, psych patients, noncompliant patients, gang members, criminals seeking access to drugs--there’s a host of things that can bring a workplace violence event into a hospital because of its 24-hour open nature.

We came across one example in an article that was published just last month. It was a California state facility that got fined. It’s called Atascadero State Hospital and they got fined for safety violations because it just didn’t have enough operational safety policies in places, like buddy systems, etc., and substantially because it didn’t have panic alarms in enough places.

I think the incident that sort of brought it to the floor was a female staff member who suffered pretty serious head injuries and broken facial bones because she was beaten inside a restroom where an emergency alarm wasn’t present.

The benefit of having mobile alarms is that the mobile alarms can go with staff members at a facility that deems to be at risk. A 2011 study by the Emergency Nurses Association about violence in emergency departments found panic buttons were the only security measure that had a measurable impact on violence reduction. Imagine nurses and staff being able to take that button with them everywhere on the hospital campus--that is pretty powerful.

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