February 02, 2009 | | Comments 0
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Ideas to keep staff competency tests focused under EC.03.01.01

Testing staff knowledge about safety should be purposeful, with the results used to identify education needs of staff, all while making sure the content of the test is up-to-date and reflects actual practice. This falls under Joint Commission standard EC.03.01.01.

If you believe that your organization’s safety test is a little on the lengthy side, it may be useful to bring the subject up at your safety or EC committee. It may only be a case of “this is how we’ve always done it,” which all-too-frequently results in questions being added over time without thought as to whether what’s in existence is worth continuing.

My personal practice has been to construct tests of 15 to 25 multiple choice questions that cover each of The Joint Commission’s physical environment functions (safety, security, hazardous materials, fire safety, medical equipment, utility systems, and emergency management).

What you might consider doing with your current slate of questions is to break them down into two or three different tests–that way, you get fewer “canned” responses by rotating them through on a yearly basis.

Ultimately, under EC.03.01.01 the expectation of your education program is to ensure that staff (including licensed independent practitioners) can describe or demonstrate:

  • Ways to minimize physical risks in the EC
  • Actions to take in the event of an EC-related incident
  • How to report EC risks

The type and number of questions used in this test should directly reflect those elements to the degree necessary for the information to be retained. And by periodically reviewing the results of the tests (I’ve always focused on the questions folks answered incorrectly), you can identify questions that are out-of-date, poorly worded, or indeed representative of a topic that needs to be covered in greater depth.

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Steve MacArthur About the Author: Steve MacArthur is a safety consultant with The Greeley Company in Danvers, Mass. He brings more than 30 years of healthcare management and consulting experience to his work with hospitals, physician offices, and ambulatory care facilities across the country. He is the author of HCPro's Hospital Safety Director's Handbook and is contributing editor for Briefings on Hospital Safety. Contact Steve at stevemacsafetyspace@gmail.com.

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