Canadian Security Magazine

Protecting newborns in hospitals still a critical security function

By Paladin Security   

Features Opinion

The abduction of a 16-hour old infant from a Trois Rivieres hospital just over a week ago is a stark reminder to healthcare administrators and security professionals alike that newborn security must remain a paramount focus in the healthcare setting. While this Quebec case had a positive outcome - baby Victoria was returned to her mother unharmed three hours after the abduction - the incident should serve as a wake-up call for the health-care security industry.

While these occurrences are relatively rare – RCMP data indicates that this is the ninth such Canadian case since 1991 – they are nonetheless devastating to the family, the community, and to the hospital and its staff. Prior to this case, the last Canadian incident occurred in Sudbury, Ont., in 2007, where the abductor posed as a nurse.

The U.S.-based National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC)  has a long history of working with hospitals to develop processes and design solutions to mitigate the risk of infant abductions. They have also developed a profile of the abductors they says fits about 98 per cent of 288 cases they have studied over a 30-year period. The profile includes a woman of child-bearing age, who studies the hospital to orchestrate the abduction, usually impersonating a staff member.

For the security industry, who use the NCMEC as a critical resource in designing infant abduction mitigation measures, the International Association for Healthcare Security & Safety (IAHSS) guidelines can also provide valuable support.

The IAHSS Design Guidelines focus on the unit design, including the use of technology and access/egress control points, while the operational guideline identifies key processes that can be implemented to support the protection of newborns, including a critical response plan.


According to Paladin Security vice-president of healthcare, Don MacAlister, CHPA, who is part of the IAHSS subject matter expert group developing industry guidelines, we must not get complacent when it comes to newborn security. “In recent years,” he stated, “the health-care security focus has been understandably on violence prevention and response in support of a safe environment for care. This has focused most of our attention on mental health units and EDs.”

“However,” he continued, “Paladin, for example, works closely with our clients across the country in assessing risk, and designing and implementing measures intended to mitigate the risk associated with security sensitive areas, including infant and pediatric units. Our more than 25 years’ experience in health care, and our work with the NCMEC and IAHSS, has allowed us to gain valuable insight in this critical area and support the needs of our clients in the more than 200 hospitals where we provide service.”

This article originally appear on the Paladin Security Group website here.

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