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Security barriers not required at hospitals. Could that have prevented injuries?


In our Storefront Safety Council database of more 28,000 vehicle-into-building crashes, we see hundreds of similar incidents at hospitals, clinics, and other medical facilities. Medical facilities that are unprotected at their entrances risk mass casualty events such as this one in Austin.  Vehicles that crash into Emergency Rooms and urgent care facilities not only might strike a large number of waiting patients, they might also strike employees, highly combustible oxygen tanks and lines, and strike very expensive medical equipment.


In addition to the more spectacular incidents like this one, hospitals and emergency rooms also risk more simple pedestrian injuries because they have a higher than normal risk of driver error accidents. 


Reasons for this include:


  • The use of zero curb designs and layouts which provide no separation between pedestrians/patients and oncoming vehicles

  • A much higher percentage of arriving vehicles driven by older drivers

  • A much higher percentage of drivers under the effect of medications

  • A much higher percentage of drivers with some form of temporary impairment or permanent disability

  • Approaching drivers may be experiencing a medical emergency themselves and are trying to get to treatment -- as in this case in Austin.


Those hospitals and ERs and other medical facilities that are properly protected from accidental or deliberate vehicle incursions still function the same in every way.  They are still completely ADA compliant.  Medical personnel can still conduct their operations and functions without restriction, and patients do not stop coming because an entrance "looks like a fortress." The cost of installing crash tested and crash rated bollards or safety barriers is minuscule and are simple, one time only events. 


In healthcare, where "Do No Harm" is such a fundamental concept, this blind spot has created pain, expensive repairs, and inescapable legal liability.  So it is very puzzling why the excuse of "bollards and barriers are not required by any code" that is mentioned in this article from KXAN is such a meaningless argument.  Building codes are not safety codes.  These sorts of casualty events are foreseeable (because of how frequently they occur) they are predictable (because the mixing of pedestrians/patients and vehicles is known to be dangerous) and they are preventable (by installing available, affordable, and effective solutions.)  When has safety of employees and the public ever NOT been a standard for any facility?



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