I work at a popular hospital, and we use keycards/badges to enter buildings. If someone asks me to open the door for them should I oblige?

  • 11
    To rephrase your question: "Should I help someone circumvent our security protocols?" No. No, you should not. Jan 12, 2018 at 22:15
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  • @Dukeling Related but technically not a dupe I suppose since this is quite a bit more black and white than holding a door which as you also comment is a pretty flagrant breach of security protocol. Technically that protocol is company-specific but I guess that every company with secured access will consider this verboten.
    – Lilienthal
    Jan 12, 2018 at 22:32
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    Why are you not aware of the security protocols in your own workplace? Find out asap, make a mistake here and it could get you fired or worse.
    – Kilisi
    Jan 13, 2018 at 1:45
  • This depends on what lies beyond the particular door and how close you are to the person you're opening doors. If this door controls access to the medical record/server room, or to doctor's/administrators private offices, then you should not open the door for anyone. If you are not sure whether it's ok to open the door, then don't open it; but always use discretion, if a team of nurses and doctors is rushing an emergency patient into operating room, then you may want to open the door even if you only recognize one or two and not everyone in the team.
    – Lie Ryan
    Jan 13, 2018 at 8:33

3 Answers 3


The problem here is that you don't understand the reason the door has been secured.

You are part of this security apparatus, so it only works as well as you do. If you don't understand the reason the door has been secured you are going to cause problems.

  1. Some doors are secured to ensure only employees can access them.
  2. Some doors are secured to keep a log of who has accessed them.
  3. Some doors are secured to control the time of day they can be accessed.
  4. Some doors are secured because the insurance company insisted.
  5. Some doors are secured to control crowds.

The way you use your access has implications for any of these reasons. Don't compromise the ones your company cares about. Assuming your company cares about them all when it doesn't can actually hurt security. It leads some who assume people don't care when they see them using the door in ways they don't expect. That misunderstanding creates a group think impression that no one cares so anything goes.

No, if the company has no reason to care that you hold the door open for someone then it's OK to hold the door open. But you have to be responsible for understanding why that's OK. It might be OK because you know who they are. It may mean you need to escort them to security where they can report a lost badge. When you see this stuff happening and you don't understand, ask, verify, and teach others.

Security is a lot more than just a lock on a door. It's also you.

  • Add to the list of reasons, is that some doors are secured as a crowd control. This can be particularly relevant in a hospital wards. Even though the wards themselves are semi-public area, some hospitals require visitors to get access card to prevent overcrowding and disturbing other patients.
    – Lie Ryan
    Jan 13, 2018 at 8:10
  • @LieRyan better? Jan 13, 2018 at 8:13
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    Excellent answer, and I like how you wrapped up with the last sentence. Physical security is #1...
    – Neo
    Jan 13, 2018 at 16:45

If your workplace takes security seriously, then they will have two rules: One, you never, ever, let anyone follow you through a door that you opened with a keycard. Two, you never, ever follow anyone through a door that they opened with a keycard.

With these two rules, it is obvious that you don't let anyone through. One, because you would be breaking the rules if you did, two because either they have a keycard, then they would be breaking the rules by following you, or they don't have a keycard, so they stay outside where they belong.

That would also apply to the person who was your boss when you left work yesterday, because you never know 100% that they are still your boss today or are fired. And if you let your ex-boss in who was just fired, that could mean maximum trouble for everyone.


If someone asks me to open the door for them should I oblige?

You should ask to the management or HR of that hospital to see if it is permitted to do so.

You shouldn't do this altogether if the entrance has some sort of log record that matters somehow to the internal politics or operations (like keeping track of time inside, access instances, etc.). This will surely mess with the record tracking and perhaps have consequences in total work hours or similar. Besides, you never truly know when you are actually under a direct security threat, so protocols should be followed to the letter to prevent this.

You can, however, open the door or hold it open to anyone in case that specific door doesn't have a key access or other is wise restricted. Meaning that there is a security protocol doesn't mean you have to leave courtesy behind. Just, make sure in what doors and situations you can't do this.

  • 1
    The Op already said "we use keycards/badges to enter buildings".
    – Nobody
    Jan 13, 2018 at 6:16
  • And I said "in case that specific door doesn't have a key access or other is wise restricted." to clarify. Otherwise the whole first part of the answer covers the key access @scaaahu
    – DarkCygnus
    Jan 13, 2018 at 7:16
  • @DarkCygnus it's physical security 101 not to let people tailgate and its not management or hr that its your internal security team. Jan 13, 2018 at 13:26

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