April 27, 2011 | | Comments 0
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Mac’s Safety Space: Scoping out some changes

Keep an eye out for the forthcoming issue of Briefings on Hospital Safety, which will include a lovely article on the new “requirement” from The Joint Commission regarding the inclusion of flexible and rigid endoscopes through the good graces of your Medical Equipment Management Plan. A quotation-fingered requirement because this one has taken a somewhat circuitous and unusual route to we the people, so a little (hi)story. Stop me if you’ve heard this one …

Historically (or perhaps le mot juste would be “traditionally,” but I digress) Joint Commission requirements show themselves to us in one (or more) of three places: the Comprehensive Accreditation Manuals, the TJC house organ “Perspectives,” or on the FAQ pages of the TJC website (for those of you keeping score, that would be www.jointcommission.org). My sense of it was that this was an effort to make the notification more manageable for end users—we should be able to keep track of three venues, one would think.

But lately, it seems that requirement-looking missives are showing up in other venues. While I don’t necessarily like to advertise for other folks, if you haven’t yet signed up for Joint Commission’s e-mail alerts, you definitely should check it out (www.jointcommission.org/ealerts/). Not every issue is a gem from a safety perspective, but there’s more than enough to keep it on your regulation rotation, particularly as there have been some standards change announcements.

Then we have situations like we have with the whole endoscope issue. Association of Medical Instrumentation (AAMI) members have known about this pretty much since George Mills “introduced” this “requirement” at the 2010 AAMI Annual Conference and Exhibition. Now, not being a member of AAMI, I didn’t happen to be there, and since I don’t subscribe to AAMI News, I didn’t happen to see (until recently) the article outlining this new requirement. But there’s definitely been a groundswell of interest among the clinical engineering folks, a mix of consternation and resigned acceptance, so this “story” is breaking out into the mainstream.

But looking at how it’s happened (and by the way, I have no real sense of when this is likely to be specifically enforced during survey. July 1, 2011? January 1, 2012? I searched for “endoscope” on the Joint Commission website and could find no mention relating to the designation as medical equipment), I have to wonder if, until there is something a wee bit more official, this is a sure-fire way to alert people in the field who might have a more than passing interest in such things. I don’t know, and I guess time will tell, but I have to tell you I think I liked things better when there were only three places to keep an eye on.

I’m still not entirely certain that the clinical engineering folks aren’t being tasked with managing a process over which they have little control over the identified failure modes (cross-contamination seems to be more the result of end-user competencies than it would be initial and ongoing preventative maintenance and inspections, but please feel free to disabuse me of that notion…)

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Filed Under: Environment 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 stevemacsafetyspace@gmail.com.

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