Making sure folks can’t break on through to the other side…

By Steve MacArthur, Hospital Safety Consultant

…unless you want them to.

One of the critical aspects of managing the security of your building is effectively “hardening” your perimeter, which to a fair degree means that you’ll have to secure some doors. Anyone who has been responsible for access control is likely familiar with the interpretations of surveyors who feel that the requirements of the Life Safety Code® (LSC) have not been sufficiently observed when it comes to securing doors but still providing for appropriate egress.

The example that springs most immediately to mind is the case of the sliding doors with thumb latches that were very popularly used for emergency room ambulance entrances, but also for some main entrances. The “problem” with this arrangement is that frequently the thumb latches did not allow for the breakaway feature of the doors to operate properly, thus running afoul of the LSC.

As is the case with the field of behavioral health furnishings, door technology has also changed over time and, as we struggle to truly improve security as a function of workplace violence and keeping interlopers at bay, the importance of how we equip our entry/egress portals has never been more apparent.

Fortunately, there’s a goodly amount of information to be had as we consider modifications to our portals. Balancing welcoming and deterrence (depending on the circumstance) can be a daunting task, but there have been a series of posts in Healthcare Facilities Today that address a lot of the considerations:

One of the truisms in healthcare facilities design is that doors, especially “good” ones are seldom an inexpensive proposition, and usually upgrades need to be managed through the budget process. The planning for a more secure future needs to start now—otherwise you may be faced with the fallout of a compromised access point or someone trapped in a space because the locking arrangements didn’t consider how (and when) the space was occupied/occupiable.

Nobody wants to have to negotiate access within a facility, but access control is just that and the more safeguards there are, the more effective the response can be if there’s a problem.

About the Author: Steve MacArthur is a safety consultant with Chartis Clinical Quality Solutions (formerly known as The Greeley Company) in Danvers, Mass. He brings more than 30 years of healthcare management and consulting experience to his work with hospitals, physician offices, and ambulatory care facilities across the country. He is the author of HCPro's Hospital Safety Director's Handbook and is contributing editor for Healthcare Safety Leader. Contact Steve at