Concerns over the rise in violence against healthcare workers in hospitals across the state and the country has led one Colorado hospital to install a mobile duress system, Denver Business Journal reported.
Forty-five Exempla St. Joseph Hospital employees now wear pendants around their necks, allowing them to signal for security during high-risk situations at just a touch of a button. The devices, given to staff who work in the emergency room, intensive care unit and behavioral-health units, allow for texting pre-set messages to security or setting off a general alarm for help, according to the article.
The hospital has seen an increase in high-risk suicidal and homicidal patients, from 125 a month in 2011 to 160 a month now. Officials attribute the rise in violence to recreational drugs that counteract many of the medications patients use, Eric Smith, director of security at Exempla Healthcare's three Denver-area hospitals, told the Journal.
Studies have shown an increase in violent incidents in hospitals over the past 10 to 15 years. One study published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine identified 154 shootings in or just outside of American hospitals between 2000 and 2011.
With national attention on the issue after last year's shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School and St. Vincent's Hospital in Birmingham, Ala., hospitals around the country are also beefing up security to protect workers.
St. Joseph's Hospital in Maine asked that police officers on-duty in its emergency room have a Taser available for their use, while researchers advised hospitals to take security precautions with firearms rather than use expensive, intrusive technologies that offer a false sense of security, FierceHealthcare previously reported.