April 26, 2021 | | Comments 0
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Will meeting in person ever come back?

And perhaps more importantly: Does it make a difference?

As I’ve been working with folks over the past few months, it’s been kind of interesting to see how much impact social distancing and its component elements have had on the management of the care environment, at least from an oversight standpoint. Folks have been able to keep their eye on the prize for the most part, but it’s tough to figure out how effective meetings are when participation and other more traditional metrics are almost impossible to determine, never mind measure. For you folks out there reading this: Has this been something discussed during meetings, included in annual evaluations, or have you kept your head down and plowed through the past year (I suspect there’s a fair amount of plowing)? COVID has been such an attention-seeker in so many ways and remains the center of attention for so many folks—it seems impossible to think that we won’t be unraveling things for quite some time to come.

Turning to the May edition of Perspectives, it’s interesting to note that our friends from Chicago say they managed to conduct over 1,100 surveys in hospitals during 2021 (Does that means 1,100 hospitals were surveyed? Somehow, I’m thinking not). What is also interesting is that the presentation of the survey findings data has taken something of a turn in that the focus is not only on specific performance elements, but also on those findings that generate the findings of greatest survey criticality (read: adverse survey decisions). From looking at the hospital data, it appears that only a couple of findings of immediate threat to health/life were in the mix (mostly relating to the management of patients with suicidal ideation, though there was on related to infection control), but it would seem that there are a whole bunch of findings in the “red” (the highest risk category in the matrix). By my reckoning, now that the physical environment is not occupying all the top spots, the hot spots for high risk in the care environment are ventilation, safe, clean areas for patients, and the management of chemical risks (hmmm, could that be a euphemism for eyewash stations?), with a side order of whatever relates to infection control concerns like high-level disinfection and the management of patient care equipment.

I don’t know that there’s anything that is particularly shocking about the slate of focus areas; that said, it will be interesting to see how findings shift (or not) now that the onsite surveys are back on line with the intent of poking around more in the outpatient settings. As an indicator, can we intuit anything from the Ambulatory Care Top 10? Indeed, I think there is—and that “anything” is anything in the environment that has an impact on infection control—disinfection, ventilation, cleanliness, ITM of sterilizing equipment. The common themes do emerge without too much scrutiny.

I think we know what we have and I think we know where they are going with all of this, though it makes me sad that loaded sprinkler heads won’t be at the top of the list. Although I suspect that it will remain among the most frequently cited single conditions; how could it not?

So, that’s this week’s missive. I hope you all continue to be well and are working to stay safe. If you’re finally thinking about embracing travel, please take measures to protect yourself. I’m seeing a lot of variation when it comes to masking, but I can’t tell who has been vaccinated and who hasn’t (unless everyone starts wearing a t-shirt…).

Be well and I’ll be back at you next week, which, if my calendar is correct, will be May. Who’d a thunk it?

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Filed Under: The Joint Commission

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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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