Role of security guards in Code Black events in medical and surgical settings: A retrospective chart audit

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The prevalence of security guards in health care settings is growing worldwide. There is a need to explore and understand their role and actions to inform policy and training and support least restrictive practices in health care. The aim of this study was to conduct a retrospective chart audit of security guard logs to investigate security guard involvement in Code Blacks, called in emergency situations of personal threats including patient and/or visitor violence, in medical and surgical wards in a large metropolitan health network in South Australia. Security guards attended 1664 Code Blacks (0.63% of admissions) over the 2.5-year study period. Events were more frequently reported in medical than surgical wards. The most common reasons for security guard attendance were patients threatening/harming staff and patients threatening/harming themselves. The most frequent security guard actions were “Attend only/standby,” “Physical restraint,” and “Patient located and returned to the ward.” The most frequent outcomes were physical restraint, chemical restraint, and de-escalation respectively. Results highlight the imperative that health services maintain and increase efforts to support least restrictive practice through policy directives and staff training.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)758-768
Number of pages11
JournalNursing and Health Sciences
Issue number3
Early online date20 Apr 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2020


  • restraint
  • security guard
  • tertiary care centers
  • violence


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