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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

Attend the symposium by convincing your boss

The 4th Annual Hospital Safety Center Symposium is just about two months away, and we know that hospital training and travel budgets continue to be tight.

For those of you who want to attend the symposium May 6-7 either in person or virtually via a Webcast, but feel you may get pushback from your boss about the cost, we’ve posted this letter that you can customize that highlights the benefits of our conference. Click symposium attendee letter to download it.

The virtual attendance is a new option this year that we hope some of you will be able to take advantage of. Remember, virtual attendees will have access to all of our session materials and you’ll also be able to ask questions electronically to our experts.

Correction: EP 24 isn’t new under LS.02.01.30

Hi folks, it’s Scott Wallask here issuing a correction for a prior blog post I wrote about a supposed new element of performance (EP) under LS.02.01.30 for 2010.

It turns out that EP actually showed up as an addendum in the February 2009 Joint Commission Perspectives. I’m surprised I never caught that EP back then, but hey, that’s my problem.

My apologies for the error and any resulting confusion. And thanks to consultants Josh Elvove and Brad Keyes for getting me the right info.

New EP quietly appears in LS.02.01.30

Note: Correction issued on February 26, 2010.

In the 2010 version of the life safety standards, The Joint Commission has slipped in a new element of performance (EP) under LS.02.01.30.

I say “slipped in” because [more]

CT hospital used EMS manager to stay updated about energy plant explosion

I just got off the phone with Jim Hite, who is emergency planner and director of safety and security at Middlesex Hospital in Middletown, CT An energy plant exploded in Middletown on Sunday afternoon, which forced the hospital to activate its emergency operations center.

The medical facility, which also rolled out the Hospital Incident Command System approach in response to the explosion, uses a nice arrangement to [more]

You may want to steer clear of The Joint Commission’s fire watch revisions

During Wednesday’s audio conference, “Physical Environment Compliance 2010: The Joint Commission’s Latest Interpretations and Survey Hotspots,” life safety consultant Brad Keyes, CHSP, of The Greeley Company raised an interesting point regarding fire watches.

The Joint Commission issued a new interpretation about fire watches last year, in which [more]

EM.02.02.07 now includes wording for pet care during an emergency response

While combing through the 2010 version of The Joint Commission’s emergency management standards, I came across a slight addition that, while not earthshaking, does potentially raise the stakes when it comes to staff member support during a disaster response.

EM.02.02.07 requires hospitals to prepare for managing workers during an emergency. Element of performance (EP) 6 states that the emergency operations plans must manage the family support needs of staff. Examples of this support listed in the EP include child care, elder care, communication, and a new one: pet care.

Is it mandated [more]

Absent regulations, it’s up to hospitals to determine trash compactor safeguards

The safety of operating trash compactors and locking them when not in use is yet another opportunity for a risk assessment.

Strictly speaking, there are no specific regulatory or code requirements for trash compactors in healthcare organizations. But we have learned over the years that [more]

New this year: Join us online for the Hospital Safety Center Symposium

As we prepare for our 4th Annual Hospital Safety Center Symposium in Las Vegas on May 6-7, I wanted to mention a new aspect that may interest some of you given the evaporation of hospital training and travel budgets.

For the first time, we will be offering an online virtual option for the symposium in addition to attending in person. Virtual attendees will be able to log on the days of the seminar and view a live simulcast, complete with presentation materials, over their computer’s Web browser.

We hope this new option will allow more of you to join us for the Hospital Safety Center Symposium, whether it’s with us in Vegas or through cyberspace. Early-bird registration, which saves you $100 off the full registration price, is available until March 5.

CDC statistics: H1N1 has killed at least 20,000 less than typical seasonal flu

Crunching some numbers will help compare the number of people infected by seasonal flu versus those infected by the H1N1 swine flu virus.

How many people become infected? [more]

2/3 audio conference looks at lesser-known Joint Commission interpretations

We’re excited about an upcoming audio conference on February 3 at 1 p.m. Eastern that will explore Joint Commission interpretations and FAQs that you might not know a lot about.

“Physical Environment Compliance 2010: The Joint Commission’s Latest Interpretations and Survey Hotspots” will help you put these interpretations and other practical strategies to work immediately at your hospital. Here’s the full agenda for the show: [more]