In my last post, I pointed to four areas that have changed over the years and necessitate a careful rethink of your approach to infant protection. Those areas included a rise in family abductions, the risk of abduction outside the Labor & Delivery unit, gaps in pediatric protection and over-reliance on the status quo. I also promised to lay out some practical steps for addressing those changes.
For today, however, let’s look at the first step: Review the security measures you have in place today. Broadly speaking, I suggest that any review of infant security measures should cover the following:
- How are you ensuring protection throughout the hospital? Are you able to monitor the location of infants as they move throughout your campus – for example, if taken to Radiology for a test? What about infants who are admitted in your Pediatrics or Emergency Department? They are at risk, too. How do you ensure they receive the same levels of security as babies in your Labor & Delivery unit? If you’re relying on a solution that covers only L&D, you’re leaving a significant proportion of your facility unprotected. Even if you have defined procedures in place for this, you remain exposed to much higher risk once an infant is removed from the L&D area.
- How do you deliver alerts and other information related to infant protection? Many older infant security solutions rely on sounders and strobe lights to communicate a safety alarm, with detailed information available from a traditional PC workstation. While strobes and sounders have value in getting everyone’s attention, they come up short when it comes to informing staff on precisely what’s happened and where – and, more to the point, where the infant is now. Today there are many more options for mobile alert reporting that send detailed information straight to caregivers’ handheld devices – smart phones, IP phones, smart badges, etc.
- How are you managing users of your infant protection system? Staff turnover is a fact of life. If credentials aren’t properly deactivated, former employees could potentially breach infant security. And if your infant protection system requires a separate set of credentials, managing usernames and passwords – and deactivating them, when necessary – falls to the nurse managers within your L&D unit. These security risks and administrative burdens can be removed with a system that supports single sign-on managed by your IT department. Integration into your hospital’s corporate directory also means your nurses have one less password to remember day to day.
- How do you develop/maintain a positive “security culture”? Do you maintain a multidisciplinary infant security committee? How often do you refresh staff training and conduct drills? Safeguarding your smallest patients requires ongoing discipline and commitment. If you don’t have a dedicated committee – or if it’s been awhile since it met – make it a priority to get everyone together. Having a formal approach to training and testing helps ensure no one gets complacent with the status quo.
- How are you engaging parents? Your staff aren’t the only people with a vital role in infant protection. Vigilant parents are your first line of defense, and critical contributors to your program. Educate them on how and why you have implemented infant security procedures and enlist their help in being alert during their time in your hospital.
Be honest and objective as you address those questions. Where you find opportunities to improve, take action today – or reach out for help from infant protection experts. I welcome your questions and input.