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Generally speaking, we in Safety Land don’t get too involved with Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) doings until they show up on our doorstep. But sometimes, the Feds weigh in on matters that can have far-ranging implications for safety operations. I think we need go back no further than the turn of 2010 to 2011, when it looked as if CMS was going to turn the whole world into a healthcare occupancy. Fortunately, through the good graces and advocacy of ASHE, that’s a bullet dodged. Bravo.

At any rate, there is a means of tracking interpretations, utterances, and the like—and it’s web-based (your tax dollars actually at work):

Basically, this site is a repository of all sort of what we might euphemistically characterize as “CMS Survey and Certification memoranda, guidance, clarifications and instructions to State Survey Agencies and CMS Regional Offices.” (Okay, not my characterization; it’s what CMS calls this stuff.) Certainly not everything found here is germane to safety and the environment, but it is searchable. (I couldn’t offer an opinion yet on how efficient the search capacity might be; to be determined.) The information could be considered a—if not the—final word on what’s happening at the ol’ Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. I don’t know that you would need to check it every day (and I can’t quite find a means of signing up for e-mail notifications of new postings), but probably worthy of a drop in from time to time.

NFPA approves new versions of Life Safety Code®, NFPA 99

Boston’s buzzing today as hockey fans celebrate the Bruins winning their first Stanley Cup in 39 years, but that’s not the only action that took place here this week. Earlier in the week, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) held its 2011 Conference and Expo in Boston, which was followed by the NFPA Technical Meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Of particular interest to healthcare facilities folks, at the Technical Meeting the association approved new versions of NFPA 101, Life Safety Code® (LSC), and NFPA 99, Standard for Health Care Facilities. The 2012 editions of each standard are expected to be published officially in the next few months.

Once the 2012 editions are published, CMS and The Joint Commission are expected to follow suit and adopt the 2012 editions. Currently, both require hospitals to comply with the 2000 edition of the LSC. The most recent edition of the LSC was published in 2009.

It could take up to 18 months before CMS adopts a newer edition of the LSC. Once that happens, The Joint Commission, Det Norske Veritas, and the Healthcare Facilities Accreditation Program will also adopt it, and then accredited hospitals must comply with the new requirements.

Visit the NFPA’s Conference blog for more information on the votes and see the upcoming issue of Healthcare Life Safety Compliance for details and analysis of these actions and what they’ll mean for your facility.

Dust bunnies find their way into Missouri hospital

Calling all dust busters, feather dusters, and brooms: The University of Missouri Health Care needs you.

After a Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) five-day survey at the Columbia, MO, facility in November, 66 findings of dust were recorded in the 47-page survey report, according to Fierce Healthcare.

The report found dust collecting in a same-day surgery suite, a pre-op room, and on a portable ultrasound machine. In the same-day surgery suite, surveyors found 100 sticky spots on the floor and a dust layer on top of an anesthesia cart and a fluoroscopic camera located above the surgical table. In the pre-op room, sterile gloves and other supplies pulled from a storage bin had pieces of dust sticking to the packaging, reported Fierce Healthcare.

The hospital was visited by eight CMS surveyors after a past employee filed a complaint.

Take a look at the report given by the CMS surveyors.

How does your facility manage dust? Let us know in our comment section.

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]

Is there any leeway to not test automatic transfer switches monthly?

I was asked whether there was any flexibility to test transfer switches at intervals less than normally prescribed. For example, might you be able to test low-risk transfer switches, such as those serving the kitchen, less frequently?

Let’s start with Joint Commission environment of care standard EC.02.05.07. EP 6 requires that, “Twelve times a year at intervals of not less than 20 days and not more than 40 days, the hospital tests all automatic transfer switches. The completion date of the test is documented.”

The key word here is “all,” and the key pain in the posterior is that [more]

Look beyond The Joint Commission for rules on who inspects imaging items

The Joint Commission does not specify in the environment of care standards who inspects imaging equipment, but where this all kind of spins out from is in the CMS Conditions of Participation (COPs).

The Joint Commission has been working very diligently– though often, seemingly, at the business end of a sharp stick — to come into closer compliance with the COPs.

The COPs section on nuclear medicine (and yes I recognize that imaging and nuclear medicine are not necessarily synonymous, but sometimes compliance becomes a function of how far you can stretch a concept) requires the following [more]