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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

Generators act as protagonists in a Katrina-themed court case

I wrote an article for HCPro’s sister company, HealthLeaders Media, about a trial going on in New Orleans that, believe it or not, may connect a patient death following Hurricane Katrina to poor emergency generator system design.

How many times have you either personally experienced or read about post-drill critiques that recommend infrastructure changes due to emergency power concerns? I hear about it [more]

California recalls N95 respirators for poor fit-tests

In a development from California that bears watching elsewhere, the state’s OSHA agency has recalled a stockpile of 3M 8000 N95 respirators issued to healthcare workers.

The state says poor fit-testing is to blame for the recall. You can learn more about this situation from our sister blog, OSHA Healthcare Advisor.

4th Annual Hospital Safety Center Symposium will focus on Joint Commission hot spots

Having already worked on things behind the scenes for several months, I’m very excited to announce that the 4th Annual Hospital Safety Center Symposium takes place May 6-7 in Las Vegas.

The symposium is the leading conference for hospital safety professionals, and as always we’ve got a packed agenda in just a day-and-a-half, making this a convenient event to attend with minimal time away from your facility or office.

This year we’re focusing on Joint Commission hot spots in the environment of care, emergency management, and life safety. On that latter point, one of our kickoff sessions at the symposium will dissect a CMS Life Safety Code survey, straight from a state authority having jurisdiction.

We’ll talk more about the Hospital Safety Center Symposium in the coming months, and I hope you’ll check out the full agenda and speaker bios.

OSHA says it will look into airborne infectious diseases

Just a quick note: OSHA today indicated it will be seeking industry comment about how to  improve worker protection from occupational exposure to airborne diseases.

This comes on the heels of [more]

The FDA encourages hospitals to stop using Steris SS1 processor

When the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) tells hospitals to seek alternatives for their Steris System 1 (SS1) processor, that’s bound to get a reaction.

The SS1 system is commonly used by hospitals for surgical and endoscopy device disinfection and sterilization. However, in a safety notice published December 3, the FDA says Steris Corp. modified the SS1 and that the agency hasn’t approved the modifications yet.

“FDA has received some reports [more]

Expect OSHA inspectors to scrutinize your written pandemic flu plans

Reading through OSHA’s new directive on H1N1 inspections at healthcare facilities, the document notes how inspectors will review written pandemic flu plans.

Such plans do not [more]

OSHA’s big messages with new H1N1 compliance directive

Just a quick note that OSHA today posted a compliance directive that helps guide inspectors as they visit hospitals treating potential or confirmed H1N1 swine flu patients.

I think there are two broad messages to take out of the compliance directive: [more]

Yet another safety standard hits The Joint Commission’s top 10

In a quick follow-up to our post last week about The Joint Commission’s top-cited standards for the first half of 2009, a more complete top 10 list now shows another life safety standard in the mix.

LS.02.01.30, which requires [more]

After the Fort Hood shootings, Twitter proves useful for one hospital

For many people, social media sites like Twitter and Facebook are frequently used to quote movie lines or discuss whether they had coffee or hair of the dog with their Corn Flakes. But from a professional standpoint, The Joint Commission is encouraging the use of social sites for emergency management purposes.

Thursday’s shootings at Fort Hood, TX, let one facility rev up its Twitter presence with useful updates and information. [more]

Even splintered, life safety standards top the citation list so far in 2009

When The Joint Commission announced a while back that the old EC.5.20 was the top cited standard in hospitals in 2008, there some observers (including me) who thought that statistic would be hard to repeat. After all, it was reasoned, the all-encompassing EC.5.20 had splintered into various new life safety standards in 2009, none of which would carry the punch of their predecessor.

Well, we non-believers were wrong. Information just released by Joint Commission Resources yesterday shows that for the first half of 2009, two life safety standards and an environment of care standard – all of them related to fire protection requirements – comprised three of the top five most cited standards in hospitals. [more]