January 19, 2011 | | Comments 0
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Mac’s Safety Space: Return of the thin white glove

The gloves come off – wait a minute, there’s another glove underneath! As is my custom when embarking on the journey into the new year, when I get my new copy of the TJC accreditation manual, I like to compare and contrast last year’s tome to this year’s.

Generally speaking, there are not many big ticket changes (I think that 2012 is going to be the bigger, and maybe even a generally big, year for change), and we’ll discuss the removal of the performance elements that keyed on long-term care settings and a few items of what I would loosely term a relaxing of restrictions. However, as an old environmental services (EVS) hand (my first 17 years in healthcare!), I was intrigued to note that EC.02.06.01 EP 20 (Areas used by patients are clean and free of offensive odors) was elevated to a Direct Impact finding. Now, I will admit in all candor, that I had a very difficult time figuring out how that particular expectation could be considered anything but a direct impact on the patient experience, and so feel somehow vindicated that cleanliness is now, potentially, a little more prominent on the radar screen.

I recall the days when any regulatory survey involved a fair amount of the old white glove inspection, with frequent chastisements for less-than-ideal cleaning. As I used to tell folks in orientation, it is very difficult, if not impossible, to effectively prevent and/or control infections in a dirty environment. Even in my consulting practice, I am always aware of how well the EVS staff is taking care of business. It may not get a lot of press, but it is a very important part of the healthcare process.

And so, it remains to be seen whether this is nothing more than an accounting adjustment, so to speak. But it may be a harbinger of an increased focus on cleanliness. I, for one, can’t say that I’m unhappy about it–we should be providing a clean environment to our patients. We would expect nothing less–nor should they.

Keep it clean out there!

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Filed Under: Environment of careEnvironmental protection

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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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