Hospital introduces panic buttons for staff

National

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (CNN) — A Missouri hospital is testing out a wearable panic button for workers to press in violent situations.

It’s in a trial phase and is aimed at improving security in high-risk areas like the ER.

“We wanted to find a way to help keep our staff safe,” said Keith Mathis, Cox South Emergency Room assistant director.

Mathis was part of the team that brought a trial of wearable safety buttons to some staff members at the hospital. 

“This is a personal panic button. When a staff member is needing assistance, if they feel threatened, they can press this button and it lets all the staff in the area, as well as security, know that they need help and exactly where they are in the department so we know where to go to help them,” Mathis said.  

When the button is pressed, it immediately sounds an alarm at the nurse’s station.

“The lights over the room start blinking a red, white and blue pattern. Pop-ups happen on the computers in the area. Nursing staff can immediately go to that room for immediate help,” Mathis said.

In addition to less time it takes for security to respond, the hospital hopes the buttons will also decrease worker’s comp claims and increase how safe staff feels while at work. 

“Safety is becoming a huge problem in healthcare. The number of attacks and threats and violence against healthcare workers is on the rise. I’ve seen the increase and there’s a host of problems causing it. We’ve got the opioid crisis — that brings in a lot of behavioral health issues — the lack of support for behavioral health. Patients. they don’t have anywhere else to go they end up here. These are patients that tend to be more violent,” Mathis said.

About 300 Cox emergency department workers are testing out the panic button.

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