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Someone’s in the kitchen, but there are no banjos involved…

In the never-ending quest for generating new and challenging survey findings, our friends in Chicago have thrown down the gauntlet (or perhaps more aptly, the oven mitt) for a new focus area: the kitchen! Certainly, the kitchen has always been part of the fabric of most regulatory survey visits. If you think about it, kitchens are among the most risk-laden environments in healthcare. You’ve got all the classic physical environment risks—slips, trips, falls, fire, sharps, heat, humidity, chemical hazards, sanitation/cleaning, a lot of entry-level positions—the list goes on and on. You could make the case that the kitchen environment is among the least risk-free environments in any healthcare organization. I will stop short of calling it dangerous, but it sure is hazardous.

To that end, this week’s Joint Commission blog posting outlines some of the major focus areas for the survey process as it relates to the kitchen; the blog also includes a link to a checklist for reducing fire and other risks in the kitchen. If you don’t have a formal process for doing rounds in your kitchen(s), might be work kicking the tires on this one.

Hope you all are well and staying safe. While I think we’re starting to make the adjustments to the “new normal,” the post-Thanksgiving spike (if there is one, and there’s no reason to think there won’t be) should be arriving shortly, so keep up the good work and we’ll get through this!

The place of working dangerously: The importance of kitchen safety

Recently, I fielded a question regarding fire response plans for food services and got me to thinking about the importance (and challenges) of good safety practices in the kitchen.

My firm belief has always been that,  for all intents and purposes, the kitchen is among the most “dangerous” locations in the hospital (when you think of pretty much all the classic safety “risks”, the kitchen has them—fire, slips, trips, cuts, chemical exposures, etc.) and also possesses among the most (if not the most) transient work forces in healthcare. Add to that the frequency of the entry-level folks being new not only to healthcare, but sometimes the working world, success really rests on the effectiveness of education, from the point of onboarding through regular department education, including the conduction of fire drills.

In poking around on the web, I came across some information provided by the Lafayette (Indiana) Fire Department relative to commercial kitchen fire safety that I think is well worth checking out for some cues in how to work with the Food & Nutrition folks to ensure the education process is all that it can be. I have noticed over the years (my wife is a big fan of cooking shows) that the celebrity chefs don’t focus as much on fire safety as they do on food safety (though I suspect Gordon Ramsey might have a few choice words if one of his restaurants had a fire). And I also know that some of the key components of fire response in a kitchen is a little counter-intuitive relative to how folks are trained in general, particularly the activation of the suppression system before one tries to use an extinguisher. I think these folks deserve a fair amount of focused support and the information contained here. It really provides you with a good road map for ensuring that your kitchen areas are as safe as they can be.