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AAMI takes action on medical cart fires

Last year, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a report warning that mobile medical carts have been overheating, igniting, smoking, burning, or exploding. This July, the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation (AAMI) responded by convening a group of experts to talk about this new fire hazard.Explosion

Similar to the infamous Samsung Galaxy 8, the fires are caused by carts’ lithium batteries and are extremely hard to extinguish. In some cases, firefighters have had to bury medical carts to put out the flames.

“Surely, we’re not going to wait until there’s a patient incident to do something,” said Ram Dhurjaty, president of Dhurjaty Electronics Consulting, during the AAMI meeting.

A 2016 FDA survey revealed that half of hospital respondents have experienced a cart battery or electrical-related problem during the previous two years. In response, the agency put out a letter to healthcare professionals about the dangers. 

“We’ve learned that for most medical cart fires, the products in question met all applicable battery safety standards, including cell-level, pack-level, and product-level standards, and we believe a majority of these were legitimate certified products,” Pete Segar, CEO of medical cart manufacturer Ergotron, told HFAP. “There is good reason to believe that incidents of lithium battery fires will continue. We need to take action to reduce the likelihood of fires that could cause serious safety events in a healthcare setting.”

“Current industry standards have not been adequate,” he continued. “Most likely because the failures are caused by low likelihood contamination or defects that are not present in the nominal designs tested during the certification process. Developing new standards would be influential in driving innovations that could have a major impact on improving safety.”

In response, the AAMI has created three priorities and work groups to help hospitals with this problem.

1.    “Conduct failure analyses for high-capacity batteries in the health care setting and develop a feedback loop with device and battery manufacturers so this information can be incorporated into future designs.”
2.    “Develop new or update existing battery design standards to reflect the best practices found in UL’s Safety Issues for Lithium-Ion Batteries, AdvaMed’s Successful Practices for Battery-Powered Medical Devices, and other published documents.”
3.    “Train health care technology management professionals about safe battery management practices.”

Those interested in joining AAMI’s workgroups should contact Joe Lewelling, AAMI’s vice president of emerging technologies and health IT, at jlewelling@aami.org.

Easily preventable ransomware attack hits hospitals worldwide

Wanna Cry map, Screenshot, Sunday 14

A map of all computer systems struck by the Wanna Cry virus as of May 14. Courtesy of Malwaretech.com

As of Monday, May 15, , forcing them to pay $300 in untraceable currency to regain access to their files. One of the most notable victims of Wanna Cry was the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS). At least 25 NHS hospitals had to reroute patients and cancel appointments while trying to save their medical records from the virus.

Ransomware is a new twist on an old crime. The virus locks down all your computer files so you can’t access them. Then a screen appears telling you that you have a certain number of days to pay the hacker in untraceable currency. Pay and you get all your files back. Refuse and your computer remains locked and your files, documents, photos, and videos are lost forever.

This type of attack particularly devastating for hospitals, where the locked medical records and computer system are critical for patient care and treatment. Nor is Wanna Cry the first ransomware attack to affect hospitals. Here’s a quick list of 12 that happened in 2016,  with many more cases occurring that same year.

Barts Health NHS Trust, which runs four hospitals in London, had its files locked on May 13. The hospital noted the attack had forced it to cancel some appointments, send incoming patients to other hospitals, and slowed down the facilities’ pathology and diagnostic services.

“Barts Health staff are working tirelessly, using tried and tested processes to keep patients safe and well cared for,” the system wrote on Monday. “We are no longer diverting ambulances from any of our hospitals. Trauma and stroke care is also now fully operational. However, we continue to experience IT disruption, and we are very sorry for any delays and cancellations that patients experience. In these circumstances, we would ask the public to use other NHS services wherever possible.”

Microsoft had already created a software patch in mid-March that closed the Wanna Cry vulnerability. However, many facilities didn’t update their security systems.

Medication Compounding Certification now available

Medicine and pills

The new certification draws on USP’s General Chapters

As of January 1, all compounding pharmacies are eligible to enroll in The Joint Commission’s new Medication Compounding Certification (MCC) program, including organizations not accredited by The Joint Commission. The accreditor says that the goal of the MCC program is to:

  • Ensure pharmacies are compliant with United States Pharmacopeial Convention (USP) and Joint Commission standards
  • Reduce the risk and harm stemming from drug compounding
  • Uncover and fix problems in existing compounding policies and procedures
  • Train personnel on the correct use of PPE and aseptic techniques
  • Ensure the physical environment meets guidelines for cleaning and documentation
  • Ensure the proper labeling, dating, and sterility of compounded products

In the March edition of The Joint Commission’s Perspectives, the accreditor writes that the program was created in part as a response to national outbreaks from contaminated compounded medicines. The Joint Commission has eligibility requirements and free 90-day access to the MCC standards on its website and in the E-dition® of the Medication Compounding Certification Manual. Their website also will be updated with a list of U.S. states that require compliance with USP General Chapter <795> and USP General Chapter <797>. The MCC standards have also been updated to reflect USP General Chapter <800> Hazardous Drugs—Handling in Healthcare Settings which was reported on previously in the Patient Safety Monitor Journal.

For more information on the certification contact either:

Hospital-based pharmacies: Brian R. Johnson, 630-792-5144 or bjohnson@jointcommission.org.

Home care pharmacies: Cynthia Cook,  630-792-5121 or ccook@jointcommission.org

Workplace violence prevention resources added to Sentinel Event Alert 45

The Joint Commission has updated Sentinel Event Alert, Issue 45: Preventing Violence in the Health Care Setting with new resources:

In related news, The American Society for Healthcare Risk Management (ASHRM) has released multiple toolkits on how to assess workplace violence risks in healthcare settings. The toolkits also provide guidance and checklists on what to do if violence breaks out and how to protect staff. The toolkits cover five main areas:

  • Staff-to-staff violence/harassment
  • Physician- or third-party professional-to-staff violence/harassment
  • Patient-to-staff violence
  • Visitor/family-to-staff violence
  • Stranger/nonemployee-to-staff violence

Read Briefings on Accreditation and Quality for more on workplace violence protection.

Joint Commission makes more revisions to EC, LS standards

The Joint Commission has announced additional revisions to its Environment of Care (EC) and Life Safety (LS) chapters. The revisions are meant to bring the accreditor in closer alignment with the National Fire Protection Association’s 2012 Life Safety Code® (LSC). The LSC was adopted by CMS and The Joint Commission last year. The revisions go into effect July 1, 2017 and apply to hospitals, critical access hospitals, ambulatory healthcare centers, home care, and nursing care centers.

The New CMS Emergency Management Rule: Tips for Successful Implementation

Date: Tuesday, January, 24, 2017 1:00–2:30 p.m. EST

Summary: After much anticipation, CMS has approved its own emergency preparedness rules separate from The Joint Commission and other accreditation agencies. Hospitals and healthcare organizations now have until November 15, 2017 to enact the changes and maintain compliance.HCPro Webcast Icon

Join expert speakers Marge McFarlane, PhD, MT(ASCP), CHSP, CHFM, CJCP, HEM, MEP, CHEP, and Thomas Huser, MS, CHSP, CHEP, as they guide you through the changes. They will help you identify resources for implementation, provide helpful tips, outline the special focus on fire drills for critical access hospitals, and list the optional and required CMS emergency management standard categories.

This webcast will teach you:

  • The list of required and optional categories of the CMS emergency management regulations
  • The tips, resources, and potential challenges to implementing an emergency prep plan
  • How to conduct fire drills for critical access hospitals

Registration: To order the webcast on demand, call HCPro customer service at 800-650-6787 or visit hcmarketplace.com