Always beware of theft risk How Bonn hospitals protect their patients

Bonn · Thieves have stolen 485 Euro a 86-year-old man had in his hospital room. The GA inquires what hospitals do to protect patients from theft.

 Many hospitals offer lockable safes in the rooms so that valuables are not stolen.

Many hospitals offer lockable safes in the rooms so that valuables are not stolen.

Foto: dpa-tmn/Christin Klose

People come to hospital when they are particularly vulnerable. While people's thoughts revolve mainly around their own health, theft is the last thing they expect. This is what happened to an 86-year-old man, who did not want to see his name in the newspaper, in the St. Marien-Hospital at the beginning of June. He had brought his wallet with him to the hospital because he feared that his apartment might be broken into during his time in the hospital. He had kept it in the bedside cabinet. Sometime during the night, he suspected his wallet had been stolen. 485 Euro were gone.

Hospitals usually point out the danger of theft. "A police poster warning of theft was placed in various places in the hospital", Viola Röser, press officer at the University Hospital in Bonn, told the GA. "The patient rooms in the new buildings also have an additional lockable compartment for valuables in the respective patient lockers." In wards where these lockers do not exist, so-called hotel safes could be installed. Even if the patients are not in their room due to examinations, they do not have to fear being robbed. "The nursing staff will then lock the rooms."

Support for victims

The Marien-Hospital regrets "if during a stay in our clinic a valuable object or an amount of money should have been lost", a press spokeswoman answers on request. "Should this be the case, we will of course support the person concerned in reporting the loss to the responsible authorities." In order to minimise theft, patients are generally advised, at or before admission, to bring as few or no personal valuables to the clinic. "If this is not possible [...], our patients can use the lockable valuables compartment in their wardrobe and special safes at our St. Marien and St. Josef facilities. The General Patients' Association now demands stricter controls at the entrances. According to the spokeswoman of the Marienhospital, this is not sensible. "No, in our opinion it is neither ethical nor practical to do so at a reasonable cost."

The Maltese Hospital on Hardthöhe takes the subject of theft very seriously. Even there, patients are advised - as far as possible before admission - not to bring any valuables with them. For indispensable items such as mobile phones or small amounts of money, it is possible to store them in a central safe against receipt, says spokeswoman Eva Lippert. "In addition, we have commissioned a security service that makes regular rounds outside visiting hours and checks, for example, whether the doors to the house are locked“.

No mention in crime statistics

It is difficult to say how often thefts occur in hospitals. They are not recorded in the crime statistics of the state of NRW. This is what Michael Beyer, press spokesman for the Bonn police, told the GA. There are figures for the „crime scene hospital“, but thefts of narcotics and hospital equipment are also included. Conclusions as to how frequent thefts are in Bonn hospitals cannot be drawn from this. However, Beyer could say that the numbers have been decreasing over the past three years.

The Hospital Association of North Rhine-Westphalia represents the 342 hospitals with their 265,000 employees. "We inform the hospitals in North Rhine-Westphalia regularly and on current occasions about this topic," says Michael Wacker from the society's press office. The hospitals themselves, however, are active in the area of theft prevention. "To this end, many hospitals cooperate with the local police authorities, who in turn specifically inform patients and staff about the dangers of theft on the wards“.

Admission controls are difficult to implement

Access to the hospitals is deliberately open to allow visits from relatives and friends. At the same time, this also serves the well-being of the patients. "With the high and uncontrolled number of visitors, it is almost impossible to catch strangers who steal professionally," says Michael Wacker.

Admission controls, as demanded by the General Patients' Association, for example, are difficult to implement. "Such controls are associated with a high level of organisational, financial, personnel and administrative effort and an additional burden on staff," explains Wacker. "In the event of theft prevention, filling a form alone would not be a sufficient means of preventing theft, as the named visitors would still be able to move relatively freely in the building without being controlled by the direct route from the entrance to the patient's room".


Do not bring large sums of money or jewellery

The Bonn police headquarters warns of theft risk in hospitals. The officers advise against taking valuables, especially jewelry or large sums of money into the hospital. Money and other valuables should always be kept in the valuables compartment in the cupboard. The police point out never to write down the PIN of bank, EC and credit cards as well as mobile phones and, if possible, lock the room door, even if you are absent for a short time. Strangers in patient rooms should be addressed and the nursing staff informed.

If a theft should occur, the police advises to report the case to the nursing staff and make a report. If credit or bank cards have been stolen, they should be cancelled immediately at 116 116.

Original text: Thomas Leurs
Translation: Mareike Graepel

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