RSSAuthor Archive for Brian Ward

Brian Ward is an Associate Editor at HCPro working on accreditation, patient safety, and quality news.

Last Flu Season Led to 80,000 Deaths

Federal public health officials are urging everyone six months and older to get vaccinated against influenza in the wake of last winter’s severe flu season, which resulted in a record high of 900,000 hospitalizations and more than 80,000 deaths.

“Last season illustrated what every public health official knows—influenza can be serious in people of all ages, even in the healthiest children and adults,” said U.S. Surgeon General Jerome M. Adams, MD, MPH, at a news conference Thursday. “It is critical that we focus national attention on the importance of influenza vaccination to protect as many people as possible every season.”

The press conference was held to highlight what officials see as disappointing flu vaccination coverage estimates in recent years. Over the last several flu seasons, coverage among children aged six months to 17 years has remained steady but fallen short of national public health goals, which are 80%. During the 2017-2018 season, coverage dropped by 1.1 percentage points overall, with young children aged six months to four years with a decline in vaccination coverage of 2.2 percentage points. Even with the drop, vaccination coverage was highest in this age group (67.8%) and lowest among children aged 13 to 17 years (47.4%).

The CDC estimates that 78.4% of healthcare personnel were vaccinated during the 2017-2018 season, up 15% since the 2010-2011 season. Vaccination coverage was highest (91.9%) among healthcare workers in hospital settings and lowest (67.4%) among those working in long-term care settings. The CDC’s FluVaxView site has a more in-depth breakdown of these statistics.

Joint Commission Revises Scoring for IC Standard

The Joint Commission (TJC) announced scoring changes for its IC.02.02.01 standard, which requires facilities to reduce infection risk associated with medical equipment, devices, and supplies. The standard was included on TJC’s list of most-cited standards.

In the latest post in its 4-1-1 on Survey Enhancements series, TJC focused on high-level disinfection and sterilization. Effective as of September 1, the revisions are meant to hone in on the process steps that pose the highest risk to patients. TJC plans to monitor the revisions over the next several months to ensure scoring is consistent.

For example, IC.02.02.01 was previously scored on the finding of visible bioburden and dried blood of instruments. Now surveyors will cite hospitals if the wiping or flushing of soiled instruments isn’t observed during a case in the operating or procedure room and it’s clinically appropriate, or if an item that’s ready to be used on a patient is visibly soiled.

Standard findings recorded before September 1 will not be removed. Hospitals that are in the clarification window or preparing an Evidence of Standards Compliance report should document their compliance with the revised scoring guidelines.

FDA warning on surgical fires

This summer, FDA issued an alert reminding healthcare professionals and facility staff of “factors that increase the risk of surgical fires on or near a patient.” The agency also recommended practices to reduce the occurrence of surgical fires, including “the safe use of medical devices and products commonly used during surgical procedures.”

The alert is targeted at healthcare professionals involved in surgical procedures—such as surgeons, surgical technicians, anesthesiologists, anesthesiologist assistants, certified registered nurse anesthetists, physician assistants, and nurses—and staff responsible for patient safety and risk management.

“Although surgical fires are preventable, the FDA continues to receive reports about these events,” read the alert. “Surgical fires can result in patient burns and other serious injuries, disfigurement, and death. Deaths are less common and are typically associated with fires occurring in a patient’s airway.”

This report comes 13 months after the FDA warned that certain lithium battery–powered medical carts had been overheating, igniting, smoking, burning, or exploding. In some cases, firefighters have had to bury medical carts to put out the flames.

When fires break out

ECRI Institute estimates that, based off the nonprofit research organization’s reporting data from Pennsylvania that has been scaled to encapsulate the entire country, there are between 90 and 100 surgical fires in the U.S. every year, down from 550–650 in 2007. ECRI Institute estimates that about 10%–15% of these surgical fires are major, leading to serious injuries or disfiguration.

In 2016, a man in Florida was getting a cyst removed from his forehead when a surgical tool caught cloth on fire during surgery, causing third-degree burns on his face, according to a news report. Another news report out of Chicago said that in 2012, a man having a catheter implanted in his chest suffered surgical fire burns so painful that he “prayed to God to just let me die.”

In rare cases, as the FDA noted, surgical fires can be fatal. For example, a 65-year-old woman undergoing surgery at an Illinois hospital in 2009 died six days after being burned during a “flash fire” in the OR.

It’s not just patients who can be harmed. Healthcare workers are also at danger of being injured when surgical fires occur. Plus, medical equipment and devices are at risk of damage, too.

Fire starters

“A surgical fire can occur when all elements of the fire triangle are present,” Scott Lucas, PhD, PE, director of ECRI Institute’s Accident and Forensic Investigation team, explained via email. Those three elements, he wrote, are a fuel, such as drapes, gauze, breathing tubes, or prepping agents; an oxidizer, such as oxygen or nitrous oxide; and an ignition source, such as a laser or electro-surgical pencil.

“Procedures involving the face, head, neck and upper chest (above the xiphoid) are of the greatest risk, particularly in the presence of supplement oxygen,” Lucas wrote in the email.

Lucas also noted that more than 70% of surgical fires involve oxygen enrichment, which OSHA defines as any atmosphere that contains more than 22% oxygen. He added that “alcohol-based prepping agents also pose a high risk of fire if the agent has not dried prior to beginning the procedure.” The recommended drying time for prepping agents should be listed in product instructions, Lucas wrote.

In its alert, the FDA wrote that it “reviews product labeling for drugs and devices that are components of the fire triangle to ensure the appropriate warnings about the risk of fire are included.”

Increased oversight means more pressure on AOs

Expect CMS to continue to put pressure on The Joint Commission (TJC) and other accrediting organizations (AO) to find more of the serious fire safety and infection control issues the federal agency says they are still missing during surveys.

Also, you may find CMS surveyors showing up soon with your AO team. But they won’t be there to watch you. They’re going to be watching the watchers, as a part of a pilot program that could potentially end the 60-day validation survey process.

In a new report to Congress, CMS says the disparity rate between serious problems identified by the AOs and those found by CMS surveyors within 60 days of survey was 46% in fiscal year 2016, up from 38% and 39%, respectively, in the two preceding fiscal years.

Most of those disparities were in infection control and physical environment, which includes fire safety violations.

Fiscal year 2016 began on October 1, 2015, and ended September 30, 2016, about a month before CMS began enforcing compliance with the 2012 editions of the NFPA 101 Life Safety Code® (LSC)  and NFPA 99 Health Care Facilities Code on November 1, 2016.

Both fire codes were adopted by CMS in June 2016 after more than a decade of requiring hospitals to adhere to the 2000 version of the LSC. Although long warned that the change was coming, many hospitals scrambled to play catch-up to the new requirements, as did AOs that had to update standards.

CMS is required by regulation to evaluate how its approved AOs do their jobs and must report to Congress every year. After last year’s report was highly critical of AO performance, TJC and other AOs stepped up their efforts to find problems and are likely to do so again, say consultants.

In addition, the Senate Energy and Commerce committee earlier this year announced it was seeking answers from each of the hospital AOs about patient safety.

CMS evaluates AOs based on their ability to meet certain quality measures, including providing information back to CMS on problems found at hospitals in a timely fashion, and by conducting what it calls validation surveys in which CMS inspectors conduct a second survey within 60 days of an AO survey.

In those validation surveys, CMS state survey agency inspectors look for any problems in which a hospital fails to meet federal Conditions of Participation, which allows the facilities to bill Medicare. CMS assumes those condition-level problems were present during the AOs survey, and that is marked against the AO as a missed deficiency.

Consultants and others have noted that the practice of doing validation surveys as long as 60 days after an AO visit is unfair because the condition-level problem identified later might not have existed when AO teams were on site.

On October 4, CMS announced several changes it says will make hospital patient safety and accountability more transparent for the public, including posting deficiency reports online for hospitals where it identifies condition-level problems.

Executive Briefings: Joint Commission Surveyor Focus Remains on EC, LSC, Ligature Risks

Highlight the zip codes where employees live so you can have a handy reference of where staff is available in emergencies, keep policies consistent and updated with the most relevant references, and focus suicide prevention efforts on making your physical environment ligature-resistant.

Those were some of the top takeaways for environment of care and other healthcare and quality professionals attending The Joint Commission’s (TJC) annual Hospital Executive Briefings held September 14 in New York City. The state of healthcare “is not good,” said Ana Pujols McKee, MD, TJC’s chief medical officer, rattling off uncomfortable facts such as the U.S.’s rising maternal mortality rate and that medical errors are the third leading cause of death. She urged attendees to accept nothing less than achieving zero harm in their hospitals and facilities.

Attendee Brian Pitt, safety director of SUNY Downstate Medical Center said his biggest takeaway from the briefings was that there are a lot of opportunities to make changes and improve. That was particularly true for the areas of environment of care and infection control, which never seem to get full administrative support, he noted. Among other things, the briefing taught him the need for consistency in what organizations — such as the CDC or the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation — you reference in your hospital policies.

“These policies can be used against us if you don’t keep it consistent and follow a consistent national standard,” said Pitt.

Here are some brief highlights from the day’s topics:

1. Suicide Prevention and Ligature Risk

Emily Wells, CSW, MSW, TJC’s project director, surveyor management and development, said that the accreditor has realized that no environment can be “ligature free,” so it’s changed the terminology to “ligature resistant.” That said, you still need to do risk assessments and have protocols to keep patient safe including removing as many ligature risks from a patient room as reasonably possible.  Facilities should pay extra attention to standard EC.02.06.01 EP 1 which was the most cited standard related to Immediate Threat. The standard requires hospitals to maintain a safe environment and EP 1 RFI include self harm risks like door hinges, beds, and drop ceilings.

Kathryn Petrovic, MSN, RN-BC, TJC field director of surveyor management and development, stressed was the need to test ligature resistant products to ensure they’re properly installed. Buying special anti-pinch point doorknobs doesn’t matter if they’re put in the wrong way, seize up and create a ligature risk, she says.  Surveyors test to see if your products work, not that you have them. And improperly installed equipment can result in a patient hurting themselves on something you thought was safe.

2. Emergency Management

Jim Kendig, MS, CHSP, CHCM, CHEM, LHRM, field director of surveyor management and development, recommends facilities run zip code tests to determine where most of their employees live. Most staff won’t come to work in during an emergency if their homes and family are in the affected area. Doing a zip code test can tell you ahead of time if you’ll need to call in help from other facilities.

Kendig also said security staff should work with local law enforcement on what to do in the event a hospital becomes a crime scene. There have been cases where a crime was committed in a hospital and police prevented hospital staff from re-entering the facility or move between rooms. That’s a possibility that needs to be dealt with before it happens, he said.

3. Physical Environment 

Kenneth A. Monroe, PE, CHC, PMP, TJC director of engineering, started off the physical environment and environment of care section with a look at Legionella. There have been multiple cases of the bacteria in hospitals, he said, and facilities need to be vigilant to protect their patients.

He also noted that 98% of all surveyed hospitals had at least one finding in the EC chapter, with ligature risks as the leading driver of Immediate Threat findings. However, the most common EP finding in the red category was EC.02.02.01 EP 5 — hazardous material handling and storage.

Ninety-seven percent-of hospitals had a finding in the Life Safety chapter, with LS.02.01.35 (sprinklers) being the most cited. Facilities don’t clean their sprinklers, test them, or put things that block the spray. Easy ways to get a finding. That said, only about 12% of LS findings were in the moderate or high risk range, with LS.01.02.01 EP 1 (No ILSM policy) being the most common high risk finding.

Revisions deeming EPs

Starting January 1, five revisions to The Joint Commission’s Elements of Performance (EP) will go into effect. The revisions deal with the deeming in hospitals and critical access hospitals. The changes are a result of CMS’ review of The Joint Commission’s EP Review Project for the Leadership (LD) chapter.

Some of the changes include specifying that if hospitals provide emergency services that they comply with 42 CFR 482.55 and  that operating rooms have available a communications system that can summon staff outside the OR.

The affected EPs are:

• EC.02.03.01 EP 9

• LD.01.03.01 EP 13 (hospitals only)

• LD.04.03.01 EP 2

• LS.01.01.01 EP 1

• PC.02.02.03 EP 7 (critical access hospitals only)

• PC.03.01.01 EPs 5 and 8

You can read the prepublication changes to hospital and critical access hospitals here.

Be ready for surveyor focus on dialysis

Surveyors from CMS and The Joint Commission are taking an interest in dialysis compliance. Which means you should, too. Each year, 468,000 patients receive dialysis as treatment for end-stage renal disease (ESRD). A single procedure takes about several hours, during which a patient’s blood is filtered and cleaned inside their body (peritoneal dialysis) or outside of it (hemodialysis). There are many possible points of failure in a dialysis treatment, and infections are a major risk. That’s why surveyors are being extra stringent about compliance, say Jennifer Cowel, RN, MHSA, president of Patton Healthcare Consulting in Naperville, Illinois, and Kathleen Good, MSN, RN, an associate of the company. Both are Joint Commission alumni.

The Joint Commission isn’t delicate when telling people what surveyors are looking for, nor when citing them. Three focus areas have come up repeatedly at Joint Commission presentations: sterile compounding, pain standards, and dialysis. And there’s been a corresponding uptick in scoring for all of these areas in 2018.

“When The Joint Commission indicated that dialysis is going to be a focus area, the field should be prepared for more detailed surveys than we have seen in the past,” Cowel says. “Take this as a heads-up notice. We have seen an uptick in dialysis scoring; in fact, we have seen scoring in dialysis in more than half of the survey reports we have seen in recent months.”

There are plenty of examples that hospitals can focus on, Good notes.

“Note that hospitals that are providing inpatient hemodialysis or contracting for the service need to pay attention to the room where dialysis is being provided, particularly if [it’s] not in the patient’s room,” Good says. “I have seen rusty air conditioning units, soil around the unit, blood spots on the floor, tiles missing behind the dialysis machine, wet towels on the floor, [and] sinks designated solely for hand hygiene being used for emptying bottles of concentrate that were used for patient dialysis.”

Cowel and Good have seen numerous findings in dialysis in recent months, including the calibration of the pH/conductivity meter not being tested per the manufacturer instructions for use (IFU). Other common findings they’ve seen include:

  • Not having an eyewash station when bleaching of a portable dialysis machine is done in a patient room.
  • Not conducting a special check of a patient’s catheter that was locked with high-concentration anticoagulant, in clear violation of the hospital’s policy on high-risk medications.
  • Improper management of medicines administered during or before dialysis treatment. For example, a dialysis nurse transporting multidose vials of heparin, despite the fact they should be considered single-dose vials.
  • Not documenting vascular site assessment (e.g., redness, warmth, tenderness, swelling) before and after dialysis, per hospital policy.
  • Not recording that consent was received from a new dialysis patient or that a conversation about risks and benefits occurred.
  • Not verifying that the amount of fluids or medications administered to a patient match the medical order. For example, if a nurse administers 100cc normal saline (NS) instead of 200cc NS per the protocol order set for hypotension during dialysis.

More on dialysis compliance will be in the upcoming edition of Briefings on Accreditation and Quality

Safety Standards Pose Problems for TJC-Accredited Hospitals

Safety-related requirements continue to plague hospitals, according to The Joint Commission’s latest list of most-cited standards data through the first six months of 2018.

Released in the September issue of Perspectives, the data was aggregated from 676 applicable Joint Commission hospital surveys from January 1 through June 30.

The top-cited standard is LS.02.01.35, related to providing and maintaining fire extinguishing systems, with 88% (86% in 2017). The rest of the list is as follows:

  • EC.02.05.01 – The hospital manages risks associated with its utility systems (80%; 73% in 2017)
  • IC.02.02.01 – The hospital reduces the risk of infections associated with medical equipment, devices, and supplies (74%; 72% in 2017)
  • EC.02.06.01 – The hospital establishes and maintains a safe, functional environment (73%; 70% in 2017)
  • LS.02.01.30 – The hospital provides and maintains building features to protect individuals from the hazards of fire and smoke (72%; 72% in 2017)
  • LS.02.01.10 – Building and fire protection features are designed and maintained to minimize the effects of fire, smoke, and heat (69%; 66% in 2017)
  • LS.02.01.20 – The hospital maintains the integrity of the means of egress (66%; 62% in 2017)
  • EC.02.05.05 – The hospital inspects, tests, and maintains utility systems (64%; 62% in 2017)
  • IC.02.01.01 – The hospital implements its infection prevention and control plan (61%; not on list in 2017)
  • EC.02.02.01 – The hospital manages risks related to hazardous materials and waste (61%; 63% in 2017)

See the September Perspectives for lists of the most-cited standards for critical access hospitals, home health, nursing care centers, and other Joint Commission certification programs.

WEBINAR – Preliminary Denial of Accreditation: Actions, Recovery, and Prevention

Presented on: Tuesday, August 28, 2018 |1:00-2:30 p.m. EST

Presented by: Kurt A Patton, MS, RPh.\

Register: http://hcmarketplace.com/denial-of-accreditation 

When the Joint Commission hands out a Preliminary Denial of Accreditation (PDA) decision, you have a small window to set things right. If you can’t get your hospital to band together to fix the problem, a PDA can cost you your accreditation, reputation, and ability to treat patients. And that’s before CMS gets involved.

Join former Joint Commission surveyor Kurt Patton, MS, RPh, this August as he reviews how you might get a PDA, what you can do about it, and what surveyors will expect during their follow-up.

At the conclusion of this program, participants will be able to:

  • Contest a PDA decision
  • Develop a corrective action plan in less than 10 days
  • Focus and prepare for the 60-day PDA follow-up survey
  • Get organized and keep staff and leaders accountable for deadlines
  • Prioritize the most difficult performance-based findings in preparation for the 60-day follow-up survey

Agenda

  • What to do if you think an “immediate threat” or “immediate jeopardy” situation is pending
  • What to do if your report is posted and you are surprised to learn it is PDA
  • How to develop a strategy to dig your way out of this situation
  • How to do a corrective action plan in contrast with an Evidence of Standards Compliance (ESC)
  • How to prepare for the most difficult survey you’ve ever experienced: the 60-day PDA follow-up survey
  • Live Q&A

IHI Launches Maternal Care Improvement Project

The Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) has begun a three-year project that aims to improve maternal outcomes for women and babies in the U.S. Supported by a grant from Merck for Mothers, the project’s goals are to spread the use of evidence-based care practices to reduce complications such as hemorrhaging, hypertension, and blood clots. It also plans to implement strategies to reduce disparities in maternal outcomes, and partner with women, their caregivers, healthcare providers, and community initiatives to better learn and address factors to improve health outcomes for mothers and newborns.

“IHI has proven experience in helping healthcare providers adopt and scale up best practices that save lives across whole systems, regions, and countries,” said Trissa Torres, MD, MSPH, FACPM, chief operations and North American programs officer at IHI, in a release. “We believe that by forging partnerships with others working on these problems and combining existing expertise with IHI’s improvement methodology, we can significantly improve care delivery outcomes for new and expectant mothers.”

Annually, an estimated 750 women die in the U.S. as a result of complications of childbirth, with more than 50,000 suffering serious complications, according to the IHI. African-American women have maternal mortality rates estimated to be three to four times higher than those of white women.

Merck for Mothers is a 10-year, $500 million initiative to help improve maternal mortality rates. The program began in 2011 and has expanded to more than 30 countries.