March 27, 2009 | | Comments 0
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I think the new couch looks best over by the wall… on second thought, maybe in front of that window…

Well, the never-ending drama of now-you-see-it, now-you-don’t in the world of strategic compliance marches on. Fortunately, my brothers and sisters in safety, the announcement of revised Joint Commission standards is virtually without impact for you (unless of course, you were otherwise occupied when these “changes” first graced our world — if you were, good on you, they’re just as meaningless as they were then).

I’ll default to my CMS logic in noting that none of the changes should have been a surprise to anyone being accredited for the purposes of bellying up to the Medicare/Medicaid bar. These were existing requirements, and, oddly enough, very much in keeping with an appropriately managed, comprehensive safety program, which I know you have because you tune into this blog on a regular basis (I certainly hope it helps, at any rate).

Which reminds me (what, no new FAQ’s this week – I’m so disappointed…), I really, really, really, wish that the “new” FAQ (posted on March 9) under the emergency management standards had not been titled “The 96-hour Requirement” (96 hours to go on the wall, 96 hours to go, you take one down, pass it around… try it on your next road trip) since, as we all know, having read the darn thing, it’s not a requirement at all. I still think that FAQ doesn’t quite make things clear, though it moves steadily in the direction of clarity.

In the FAQ, we follow the example in which we (and I use that term euphemistically, even though there is no we in team) determine that our capabilities would “expire” at the 80-hour mark and so we are given the indication that evacuation would be an “appropriate response”. The one little piece that I believe cannot be overstated is that knowing that your capabilities run out at the 80th hour means that, for all intents and purposes, you need to have evacuated by then, otherwise it may no longer be safe to do so, which is the most important assessment to make (i.e., can we get out safely).

It would be like planning a cross-country trip on half a tank of gas and not planning a fill up until you’re stranded in the desert (no, unfortunately, we don’t have a hybrid for this particular trip). It’s not quite like going to the bathroom before you leave the house, but there are eery parallels.

Hope to see you all fueled up in the desert in May for the 3rd Annual Safety Symposium in Las Vegas (if only I had a jumpsuit that fit – thank you, thank you very much!)

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Filed Under: Emergency managementEnvironment of care


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

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