October 25, 2021 | | Comments 0
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Deck the halls with boughs of noncombustible construction…

It hardly seems possible that we are rushing headlong into the depths of November (October being almost as I write this), though I will note (as you would no doubt verify) that some of the big box stores have had “those” decorations out on the showroom floor for a couple of weeks. Strange that they don’t have a section of trimmings for hospitals…mayhap one day some illustriously inventive individual will come out with a line of Life Safety Code®-compliant holiday decorations for the healthcare market. To sleep, perchance to dream…

At any rate, it would seem that once again it is time to prepare for the onslaught of non-UL-listed trees and lights and all manner of unauthorized décor modifications (if you don’t believe me, check this out). I think that if I were in a position of waiting on a survey that’s more than 45 days late, I would very much plan on seeing our friends from Chicago before the end of the year and I would spend a wee bit of time coaching the more festive members of your organization in the do’s and don’ts of noncombustible decorations. As I’ve maintained right along, I absolutely understand that there is a therapeutic value (and perhaps never more so than this upcoming season) in having our places look festive during the holidays. Folks are exhausted and are probably not going to react well to any overly Scrooge-y dictates—work with them—if you have any money in your budget, maybe put together some examples of what can be done with code-compliant materials. I think, sometimes, the most powerful message of all is the one you show—and leave the telling to others…

To close the thought on those well within the survey window—the goal of the survey process is to generate findings, particularly in the physical environment—if you have a circuit breaker labeled as “spare” and it’s in the “on” position, they’re gonna find it and write it. If you have some schmutz on a sprinkler head, they’re gonna find it and write it. Something parked in front of an electrical panel—yup! Something parked in front of a fire alarm pull station—you betcha! Doors not latching—oh yeah! There are no perfect buildings and if all they can find are these types of imperfections, that’s what your survey report will look like.

Effective rounding is the only thing that’s going to keep these types of things under control; I’m sure there’s lots of rounding going on—make sure they’re effectively managing the conditions that are most likely to be discovered during survey. You know what to look at (everything!). Get folks out of the habit of looking “for” things—it sometimes leads to missing other things that didn’t make the “checklist.”

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Filed Under: The Joint Commission


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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