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MRSA: Not just for hospitals anymore

Not that this is news, per se–but hospitals have been receiving the bulk of MRSA-related press lately. Here’s an unusual bit of news related to the superbug:

While hospitals receive the bulk of attention in the battle to prevent methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), the “superbug” can arise in unexpected places-and recently, that unexpected place was the San Diego Zoo, the LA Times reports.

As many as 20 human caretakers were infected at the zoo. The most likely cause appears to be the first known transmission of MRSA from a zoo animal to a human. It appears that a human handler infected a baby elephant, which was being hand-raised by zookeepers because the mother elephant was unable to care for it. The calf then in turn passed the infection back to other zookeepers.

More than a third of the workers involved in caring for the calf were infected with MRSA, developing for the most part mild symptoms.

If you’re interested in reading the full Times article, it can be found here.

FDA issues warning about MRI burns

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning yesterday about the risk of burns to patients who wear transdermal patches. These are medicated patches most often associated with smokers who are trying to quit smoking. These patches have been catching fire during MRI scans because many of them contain a metal backing that’s not always visible to the wearer, or the person administering the scan.

While the FDA is compiling a list of those patches that could ignite during a scan, it has issued the following advice to healthcare workers:

  •  identify those patients who are wearing a patch before the patients have the MRI scan
  • advise those patients about the procedures for removing and disposing of the patch before the MRI scan
  • advise those patients about replacing the patch after the MRI scan

To read the full advisory, click here.

Patient Safety Awareness Week starts March 8th

Patient Safety Awareness Week logoAs many of you may know, Patient Safety Awareness Week is coming up, beginning on Sunday March 8 and running through Saturday March 14. This annual observance, sponsored by the National Patient Safety Foundation (NPSF), serves as a great opportunity for hospitals to not only offer unique and creative patient safety-related programming, but it provides a chance for hospital staff members to connect with the outside community to emphasize patient safety.

This year’s theme, “A Prescription for Patient Safety: One Partnership, One Team” highlights this need to better involve patients in their own care. If you visit the NPSF’s Patient Safety Awareness Week web site, you’ll find a host of suggested activities for patients, staff members, and other community members to take part in as a means of building awareness about patient safety topics. The NPSF also just announced the release of a Universal Compact, which is aims to foster clearer lines of communications among patients and their clinicians.

“The Universal Patient Compact is an evolution of the concept of the Patient’s Bill of Rights,” said Diane Pinakiewicz, MBA, president of the NPSF in an interview. “It will focus on the patient and provider working together as a team. We want to get the patient’s voice inside the provider team, and build a partnering between the parties.”

The Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) has also released some helpful reminders specifically for those people visiting hospitalized patients in honor of the week. Some of these include:

  • Sanitize hands before and after your visit
  • Stay home if you’re sick
  • Before you bring the kids, flowers, or food, check to make sure they are allowed
  • Don’t contribute to the clutter by bringing unnecessary personal items

Click here to find the full list.

I know lots of facilities use Patient Safety Awareness Week as a chance to host hospitalwide events that focus on keeping patients safe and engage both staff members and community members in creative ways. What is your hospital doing? What have you been a part of in the past as far as event programming?

Sebelius chosen to replace Daschle as HHS secretary

For those anxiously awaiting President Obama’s second nomination for Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), the wait is over. The governor of Kansas, Kathleen Sebelius, democrat, is the president’s next choice for the position. Sebelius, who I mentioned in this posting on the Patient Safety Monitor blog as a possible candidate as secretary of HHS, has a track record of working closely with health insurers in her home state. In fact, prior to working as the governor, Sebelius served as Kansas’ state insurance commissioner. Her nomination has received praise from both republicans and democrats alike. Unlike Obama’s first nomination for HHS secretary, Tom Daschle, Sebelius will not serve as both HHS secretary and “healthcare czar,” a position that will specifically focus on reforming healthcare.

Should Sebelius be confirmed, she will have a lot on her plate as soon as she starts. A commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration has yet to be named, mostly because of the delay in confirming an HHS secretary. Known for her pro-abortion and stance and bipartisan policies, Sebelius successfully blocked the sale of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas to Anthem Inc. because she said it would have raised insurance premiums for residents of the state.

You can read more about Sebelius in these articles from the Wichita Tribune and New York Times.

Do you have any initial thoughts about President Obama’s choice?

Joint Commission releases sentinel event statistics through 2008

The Joint Commission has released its latest statistics for sentinel events through December 31, 2008. Perhaps not surprisingly, wrong-site surgery tops the list at 13.2% of reported events. The data released by The Joint Commission date back to 1995, and the database contains 5,632 total events. Second to wrong-site surgery is suicide at 12.4%.

Does this list reflect the most reported events at your hospital?

If you’d like more details about the specific events on this list, you can click here and find options for looking at trends by year and by state.

Only 80 days until the AHAP conference

Just wanted to let you all know that there are only 80 days between now and the AHAP conference on May 14 and 15! For those who have already signed up, I hope you are as excited as we are to get together with peers and learn about the latest trends in accreditation. I’m particularly interested to sit in on the panel scheduled that will have speakers from The Joint Commission, DNV, and HFAP to discuss accreditation options.

For those who haven’t signed up yet and are interested, you can check out the agenda and any related registration information by clicking here. The early-bird rate is still available and will be through March 13.

It’s sure to be a good time with fellow healthcare accreditation buffs, Vegas style!

Working group calls: Save the date

Our next round of working group calls are coming up this month. This time around we’ll be talking about infection control issues. Jodi Eisenberg will facilitate the first call, 2/24, at 2:30 pm EST (1:30 Central, 11:30 Pacific). We’d like to welcome Marsha Barnden, MSN, RNC, an infection control expert and former Joint Commission surveyor, who will facilitate the second call on 2/26 (12:30 EST, 11:30 Central, 9:30 Pacific).

We’re looking forward to an active, lively discussion both days. Hope you can join us!

Last chance to participate in the latest AHAP survey!

Last week an invitation went out to all AHAP members inviting you to participate in our latest benchmarking survey. This quarter we’re taking a look at infection control and related National Patient Safety Goals. We’ll be closing the survey soon in order to put together our quarterly benchmarking report, but if you’d still like to participate, all you have to do is click here and you’ll be taken directly to the survey.

Not an AHAP member but interested in our quarterly benchmarking surveys? Sign up here!

Members–we’re already looking ahead at next quarter’s benchmarking survey. What topics are you most interested in? Comment below, or feel free to shoot me an email directly.

Enforcing Joint Commission standards the hard way

Now, we here at AHAP don’t condone using brute force for getting staff to comply with Joint Commission standards, National Patient Safety Goals, and the like, but I thought you might get a kick out of this Youtube video doing just that.

It’s a little over the top on comedic/slapstick violence, and a tad dated, but definitely laugh-worthy for anyone working in survey coordination and standards compliance.

Simple solutions for patient safety

The HealthLeaders Media Industry Survey 2009, released earlier this week, shows that many healthcare leaders think that while technology is an important part of patient care, driving home the fundamentals of patient safety is actually more important. For example the notion that handwashing is far more effective at preventing HAIs than implementing some sort of technology that monitors infection rates. In fact, only 12% of who answered the survey said that their electronic medical records played a large part in improving quality and patient safety.