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Searching for Restricted Items

Keeping everyone at CHEO safe

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What is a restricted items search?

There are times when we need to check patients for things that could cause harm to themselves or others. We do this when we feel a search is needed, to keep everyone at CHEO safe. Restricted items can be any personal belonging that could harm a patient or someone else.

What are some reasons for a search?

It is important that CHEO is a safe place for our patients, visitors and staff. We’ll search a patient when we feel this is needed to maintain a safe place for care. Here are some examples of when a search is needed:

  • A patient says she intends to harm herself or others;
  • A patient makes a serious attempt to harm himself or others;
  • A patient has harmed herself recently;
  • A patient has tried to bring restricted or illegal items into the hospital before;
  • A patient or reliable person (like a parent, caregiver, friend or another patient) tells us that the patient has hidden a restricted item in his room.

Who will perform the search?

A Regulated Professional, Child and Youth Counsellor, Crisis Intervention Worker or Security staff person who has been trained on the search policy and procedure will do the search. We will respect patients’ gender preference.

Where will the search happen?

We must search patients in each area of CHEO where the patient arrives for care. This means patients are searched between units and departments within CHEO. We’ll always use a private room when searching clothing or belongings, so others won’t be able to see.

What is involved in a search?

There are 6 different types of searches that help reduce risk of harm. These include searching personal belongings, clothing, or a patient’s room. During a search, we’re trying to find and remove restricted items that could harm a patient or someone else.

Is consent needed? What if I refuse?

Yes. Verbal consent is required for a search. If verbal consent is refused, the Most Responsible Physician (MRP) and Regulated Professional familiar with the patient will decide together what the next steps should be. They’ll consider the patient’s condition and the risk to staff and others.

Are police ever involved? Are there any enforced searches?

We’ll contact Security if we suspect a patient has weapons or drugs, or if we find these during a search. We’ll then work with our Security staff to decide if we need to call the police.

What happens to any belongings that are removed? How do we get them back?

It depends on whether the items are illegal or not. If we find illegal items during a search, we follow Canadian Laws (Canada’s Criminal Code).

We hand any illegal items we find over to our Security Department. Security staff then remove any information that can identify a patient, and will turn the items over to police.

If we find restricted items which are not illegal, we’ll either throw them away, or give then to a parent or caregiver to take home. We can also store these items in the unit’s secure location until discharge. We return these items when patients are discharged.

How do I find out more about this?

Your nurse or doctor can answer questions and give you more information.

Who can I talk to if I disagree with the search?

CHEO’s Patient/Family Representative is here for you. Call: 613-737-7600 extension 3078 or Email:

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