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Scott Wallask

Scott Wallask is senior managing editor for HCPro's Hospital Safety Center ( and the award-winning newsletters, Briefings on Hospital Safety and Healthcare Life Safety Compliance. He has written about healthcare for HCPro since 1998, with a focus on occupational and building safety, emergency management, fire protection, and infection control. Prior to joining HCPro, he worked as a reporter for several newspapers in eastern Massachusetts. He holds a BA in print journalism, magna cum laude, from Northeastern University in Boston. Contact Scott at

California’s aerosol transmissible disease standard behind $100,000 fine

Our sister blog OSHA Healthcare Advisor has a good post to read about a substantial fine to a California hospital for alleged violations to that state’s new aerosol transmissible disease standard.

California’s OSHA agency issued a $101,485 penalty against Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Oakland stemming from concerns about a staff member’s exposure to bacterial meningitis.

Federal OSHA has indicated that it will also look into an aerosol transmissible disease regulation, which would be big news for hospitals beyond California.

Knoxville shootings offer a chance to review your security training

A terrible shooting at Parkwest Medical Center in Knoxville, TN, on Monday — one victim and the alleged gunman are dead, two other victims are hospitalized — proves how rapidly a security incident can unfold. It’s likely the suspect shot his victims and then killed himself before police and security officers even had a chance to help.

In such cases, it seems the priority is [more]

Alleged fire safety worries, other lapses spell big trouble for a hospital

There was an attention-getting article in this week’s issue of our Hospital Safety Connection e-newsletter about a California hospital that got fined 100 grand by the state for low humidity levels in an OR, which raised concerns that electrosurgical instruments could spark and ignite a fire in the dry air.

I have to admit that in my years of covering life safety, I never [more]

DNV rep discusses surveyor approach to Crocs shoes

Yesterday I was talking to Randy Snelling, CPEO, chief physical environment officer at DNV Healthcare, which accredits hospitals using a combination of CMS’ Conditions of Participation and ISO 9001 quality management.

Snelling mentioned Crocs, which have gotten a fair amount of attention over the years because of a debate on whether these shoes — which are essentially rubber clogs with holes in them — are appropriate in healthcare settings.

When DNV surveyors see Crocs [more]

Steris SS1 fans have new alternative to consider that is FDA-cleared

Those of you who have been fans of the maligned Steris System 1 (SS1) processor may be interested in knowing that the FDA has approved an alternative to that product from Steris.

The new item is called [more]

Learn the latest strategies for ED violence prevention at our symposium

Anyone who’s ever seen healthcare security expert Fred Roll speak knows he packs his discussions with details and examples, so we’re bound to have a lively discussion about ED violence when Roll appears at our 4th Annual Hospital Safety Center Symposium May 6-7.

Roll will look at how to better prepare the ED for workplace violence and pandemic surges. When developing this session, we thought it made sense to focus on one of the most problem-prone areas of the hospital when it comes to security concerns, so attendees will walk away with specific ideas to bring back to their EDs.

You still have plenty of time to join us live in Las Vegas for the Hospital Safety Center Symposium. If eduation budgets remain tight at your facility, you can also participate virtually via a live Webcast of the event.

I encourage you to check out our full agenda and speakers for this exciting program, and whether it’s in person or on the Web, I’m looking forward to meeting many of you.

New CDC numbers indicate mandatory flu shot policies noticeably increase vaccination rates among employees

The CDC posted an interesting report yesterday, based on a Web survey the agency conducted, that you should read if you’re at all involved with seasonal and H1N1 flu vaccination efforts.

Here are the highlights [more]

Disaster recovery steps may require a security aspect to them

There’s been a lot of flooding in the Northeast, and no doubt some hospitals there are suffering through water damage and related facilities issues. In many ways, because flooding can occur quickly in a building’s low points, such incidents become an exercise in recovery steps.

During the 4th Annual Hospital Safety Center Symposium May 6-7, emergency management expert Joe Cappiello, chair of Cappiello & Associates in Elmhurst, IL, will speak about business recovery strategies following a disaster.

A key point Cappiello will discuss is a greater need for [more]

Download our popular (and free) special report on Joint Commission citations

If you haven’t had a chance yet, check out why more than 1,100 of your colleagues have downloaded a free special report posted on the Hospital Safety Center.

The six-page white paper, “Joint Commission survey update 2010: Detailed citations in the environment of care, life safety, and emergency management standards,” reports on the results on an exclusive poll we conducted of hospitals surveyed last year.

You’ll see which EC, emergency management, and life safety standards pulled the biggest citations, and also read specific information about a variety of deficiencies that surveyors noted. This is one of the most popular special reports we’ve ever published, so don’t be left out.

Nurse firings during emergency response should trigger an HVA assessment on your end

Any of you been following the headlines regarding Washington (DC) Hospital Center firing a handful of staff for calling in to work during blizzards in February?

In a nutshell, the hospital has terminated 21 nurses and other essential personnel, saying they allegedly disregarded their duties and ignored attempts by the facility to offer [more]