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Don’t pass/fail me by – what does it all mean…

I was recently reviewing some fire alarm testing documentation and I encountered an interesting dichotomy in which a number of smoke detectors were identified as having passed the inspection/testing process, but were also identified as having been installed within 3 feet of air supply vents. [more]

Watching the detectors

This week’s topic of conversation is the fascinating story of having smoke detectors in staff sleep rooms, and how TJC is surveying things at the moment.

So, a bit of background. Generally speaking, chapter 19, the existing healthcare occupancy chapter of the Life Safety Code (NFPA 101 – 2000) does not specifically require the installation of smoke detectors in physician sleeping rooms that are within the healthcare occupancy. It is also the case that physician sleeping rooms in other occupancies, particularly Hotels and Dormitories, would certainly indicate the need for smoke detection. [more]

How will you know?

One question that comes up from time to time in survey encounters with front-line clinical staff is the very open-ended: How do you know that this piece of medical equipment is safe/ready/OK to be used?

Then there’s generally some conversation regarding the proper operation of the device—making sure there are no error messages, the device powers up, etc. Sometimes, the conversation will also cover the topic of what I will generically call the inspection sticker.

Last Dance, Last Chance—Hot (& humid) Stuff…

Strangely enough, there remains some uncertainty relative to the management of temperature and humidity, particularly in the surgical environment. And the topic of this week’s conversation is: What do you do when your HVAC system is not functioning within its designed specifications? [more]

Sign of the times

I recently received a question regarding the bona fides for the person(s) in an organization who are charged with signing hazardous materials manifests when the hazardous materials in question are hauled off for final disposal, so I thought it might be useful to give this topic the once over and maybe generate some discussion. [more]

House of the rising survey findings

Something worthy of your consideration, particularly if you have chosen to inspect, test, and maintain any of the components of your fire alarm system.

Lately, there’s been a wee bit of pushback relative to the qualifications of the in-house folks charged with inspecting, testing, etc., of fire alarm system components, or at least a request for evidence of those qualifications.

Some of you may well ask what those qualifications might entail, so gather near and I shall tell you. [more]

Can’t get no protection…

I’m not sure if you folks follow my HCPro colleague David LaHoda’s OSHA Healthcare Advisor e-newsletter and blog, but there’s an item this week that I think bears bringing to your attention in case you didn’t see it.

Gaining some Perspectives on The Doors of Perception

I’m going to guess that you all out in the audience do not necessarily place The Joint Commission’s Perspectives periodical on your list of must-reads, but for the May and June 2012 issues (and who knows beyond that), you really owe it to yourself to grab a copy and prepare for some hard-hitting door and barrier conversation with our esteemed colleague, one Mr. George Mills, Director of the Engineering Department at The Joint Commission.

At any rate, I think we can point to an increasing level of frustration on the part of the various and sundry regulatory agencies (and us, don’t forget us) relative to the number of findings in the life safety (LS) chapter and the omnipresence of these issues in the most frequently cited standards during surveys. How do we make this go away? The answer to that question, interestingly enough, is adopting a risk-based strategy for the ongoing inspection and maintenance of whatever building component is in play – this month its doors. [more]

Taking care of business

Earlier today, I was conducting an EC/EM interview session with a very participative group and I was complimenting them on their ability to speak to improvement efforts in areas that are not necessarily in their scope of practice. Now, my experience has been that the folks most familiar/expert with the EC function being discussed tend to dominate the conversation (sometimes in a good way, sometimes not) and I thought it was cool that these folks were so familiar with what others in the group felt was important. To my compliment, the observation was made (and I thought this was absolutely the grandest definition of what a high-performance team can achieve) that they mind each other’s business. In that simple turn of phrase (not an exact quote – sometimes paraphrase is the best I can do), the whole concept of what the EC team can embrace and accomplish was crystallized: It’s not about what may or may not be “somebody else’s job” (or “not my job”); it’s actually using the team concept to make and sustain improvements. In the old days we used to call that type of organizational behavior “silos,” which is OK if you’re storing grains and such, but when the goal is organizational improvement, we want to be more like a snack mix with all sorts of nuts and fibrous bits.

And please keep in mind, it’s not necessarily about never having any issues to correct. As long as there are human beings in the mix, there will be corrections to make – be assured of that. But if you can harness the power of a group of committed individuals who accept responsibility, hold each other accountable, and care enough to “mind each other’s business,” you can accomplish so much. There’ll always be stuff to do, but think about the power of getting stuff done.

Brings a smile to my face – how ‘bout you?

Dry your eyes – but don’t dry those wipes!

A quick note of interest from the survey world –

A recent survey resulted in a hospital being cited under the Infection Control standards (IC.02.02.01 on low-level disinfection, to be exact). In two instances, someone had the temerity to forget to close the cover on a container of disinfectant wipes. Can you believe such risky behavior still exists in our 24/7 world of infection prevention? It’s true, my friend, it is true!

The finding went on to say that, as the appropriate disinfection of a surface depends on wet contact with the surface being disinfected, leaving the cover open would partially dry out the next wipe, impairing the ability of the wipe to properly disinfect the surface. Now, I suspect that the person to use that next wipe might somehow intuit that the moisture content in the wipe was not quite where it needed to be and maybe, just maybe, go to the lengths of (wait for it) – pulling out an additional wipe (or two, or three). Now my experience has been that sometimes those wipes are not what I would call particularly well-endowed in the moisture department. And  the use instructions for these products usually indicate that you should use as many wipes as it takes to ensure that the surface to be disinfected stays wet long enough for disinfection to occur.

I’ve always been a pretty big fan of the slowly-becoming-less common sense, so I’m not quite sure how we’ll be dealing with this one – thoughts, anyone?