Archive September 2017 XVIII, No. 9

Ideas That Work: Keep Strangers Out of Restricted Areas

restricted area AUTHORIZED PERSONNEL ONLY Make it everyone's responsibility to stop "tailgaters" from following them through a locked door or into a restricted area.

NO TAILGATING Keep Strangers Out of Restricted Areas

It's common courtesy to hold a door open for whoever is behind you, but it's also a huge security risk in a surgical facility ( What if the person who follows an employee through a locked door or into a restricted area is up to no good? Our hospital fell victim last year to so-called tailgating when a former surgical resident dressed in scrubs followed staff into the ORs, where she observed surgery and even helped transport a patient.

We have about 1,200 restricted areas in our hospital that require badge access or a key to enter. But if people are able to follow behind a staff member without permission, the card readers and locks aren't effective. We ask all our 18,000 employees to be aware and look behind them every time they use their badge or a key to enter one of these areas. They also clip a blue "Be Aware" card (pictured above) to their employee key-cards to help them remember what to do if someone tries to tailgate:

1. Stop. Ask, "Excuse me, can I help you?" Check to see if he has a facility ID or visitor badge. Explain that the area he's trying to enter is restricted. The goal is to assess the person's intentions in a non-confrontational manner.

2. Challenge. If the person doesn't have a badge or visitor ID, or doesn't have permission to enter the area, tell him you're not able to let him in. Validate the person's story. Did he call the nurse's station to check in? If he's a visitor, whom is he coming to see and where is he meeting that person?

3. Assist. Help the person find a legitimate way to access the area, such as escorting him to the security desk or information center. You can also call the person he says he's meeting to authenticate the claim.

Dave Corbin, CPP, CHPA
Brigham and Women's Hospital
Boston, Mass.

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