Archive for: November, 2008

MRI’s sliding through the cracks

By: November 26th, 2008 Email This Post Print This Post

Even with all the hype over preventing MRSA, MRI-suites are managing to escape the thorough attention that other parts of the hospital are getting.

The reason? Housekeeping staff and most cleaning equipment are prohibited from the MRI-suite because of the strong magnetic fields that have led to accidents in the past. The drawback is an MRI machine that could be harboring MRSA, according to the paper Preventing Infection in MRI: Best Practices for Infection by Peter Rothschild, MD, which was published on

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Putting a lid on medical waste violations

By: November 24th, 2008 Email This Post Print This Post

How difficult is it to get the regulated medical waste (RMW) into a red bag, then to the licensed waste hauler, and disposed of according to state law? Apparently it isn’t as easy as you would think.

My Google search for regulated medical waste routinely digs up incidents where healthcare facilities appear to violate RMW laws. Though vastly different in circumstances, here are two examples that generated a dumpster full of problems.

A dentist, Thomas W. McFarland Jr., of Wynnewood, PA, was indicted for unlawful discharge of a pollutant and unlawful disposal of regulated medical waste, reports The Philadelphia Inquirer, November 19. McFarland, who practices in Pennsylvania but owns a beach house in Township, NJ, allegedly took small motor boat to the Townsend Inlet and dumped syringes, swabs, and capsules of used filling material. (Didn’t Tony Soprano try this “disposal” method with the rat Sal Bonpensiero?)

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A doorway dilemma

By: November 21st, 2008 Email This Post Print This Post

You’ve heard the expression, “don’t let the door hit you on the way out.”

Well, when dealing with eyewash stations, you can think of it this way: “Don’t let the door hit you on the way in.”

At least that’s what the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) recommends (see page four). According to ANSI updates in 2004, your facility may have a door separating emergency fixtures, but that door cannot have a lock and in must open towards the shower or eyewash station.

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Plumbing the intricacies of eyewash station selection

By: November 20th, 2008 Email This Post Print This Post

Safety tip from Medical Environment Update, December 2008

Generally, eyewash stations with bottles of buffered solution don’t meet OSHA requirements—at least not for exposure to injurious corrosive materials. That is because in these types of exposures, OSHA requires “suitable facilities for quick drenching or flushing of the eyes and body.” The suitability of an eyewash station is not addressed in the standard, 1910.151(c), but any OSHA inspector will likely reference the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) for eyewash stations.

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Workplace violence: It’s not just in the ER

By: November 17th, 2008 Email This Post Print This Post

Violence in the ER is a hot topic that continues to concern hospital safety and security officials. Recently, nurses in Massachusetts have expressed frustration over going to work fearful of being assaulted.

Although ER nurses and doctors certainly face an escalated risk, violence is not just limited to the hospital. OSHA has workplace violence prevention guidelines that apply to all healthcare settings.

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Where does the iPod fit into workplace infection control?

By: November 10th, 2008 Email This Post Print This Post

How often do you walk down the street and notice little white buds growing from people’s ears? Thanks to the iPod, people worldwide walk to work or ride the subway to their own personalized soundtrack.

But now it seems the iPod craze has made its way into the lab. At first you might think it seems like a progressive job perk, but unless Apple releases the “iPod Infection Control,” it’s probably not a good idea.

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Get up to speed on PPE

By: November 7th, 2008 Email This Post Print This Post

When dealing with hazardous drugs, it’s just not enough to have personal protective equipment available. Specifics like correct fitting, proper training, and knowledge of equipment limitations needs to be addressed in order to ensure safety in your facility.

How many times have you put on a mask that just doesn’t fit right? Or seen a coworker improperly remove a gown or gloves?

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OSHA Obama-gram

By: November 7th, 2008 Email This Post Print This Post

Although it was not a hot campaign item by either party, in the wake of the presidential election, lots of safety experts and OSHA watchers have speculated as to what the Obama administration will mean to OSHA.

Conventional wisdom says that OSHA is more active under a Democrat administration. As critics of the current administration like to point out, fewer OSHA standards have been promulgated under President Bush than any of his predecessors since the OSHA Act became law in 1970. In case you forgot, that was under President Nixon.

Most of the prognosticators point to more energetic enforcement—meaning more inspections, higher fines, maybe even criminal penalties for egregious violations—the approval of new standards, additional funding for training, and the resurrection of the ergonomic standard, albeit in a different form.

Just for fun, imagine you have a direct line to the President-elect’s ear. What OSHA changes would you suggest specific to healthcare?

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Name a safety product and win a prize

By: November 6th, 2008 Email This Post Print This Post

My good friend Ron Stoker, executive director for the International Sharps Injury Prevention Society (ISIPS), is collecting information on healthcare safety devices, and he is willing to bribe you for information.

Sort of.

The Compendium of Infection Control Technologies is the most comprehensive resource on safety devices used in healthcare. For all of you who don’t know about safety devices—or work with physicians who claim that there are no commercially available safety devices to adopt—check out the ISIPS safety products list. You might be surprised.

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Ask the expert—Laundering scrubs

By: November 5th, 2008 Email This Post Print This Post

Q: What does OSHA say about the home laundering of scrubs?

A: If in your facility scrubs do not function as personal proactive equipment (PPE)—most scrubs function as uniform and not PPE—then OSHA does not have oversight on laundering.

If the scrubs function as PPE, then the employer is in violation of the bloodborne pathogen standards by having employees clean, launder, and maintain them on their own:

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When safety battles fashion over bloodborne pathogens

By: November 4th, 2008 Email This Post Print This Post

No matter what the season, questions about casual footwear—mostly sandals, clogs, and Crocs—and compliance with OSHA’s bloodborne pathogens standard always seem to crop up.

Maybe it’s global warming that is the cause for all those exposed toes and heels, or is it just that employees are adamant that the workplace not infringe on their sense of foot fashion or comfort?

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Lack of flu-shot safety device poses problem for worker

By: November 3rd, 2008 Email This Post Print This Post

Flu vaccination has just begun, and already there is a problem. But this issue affects employees rather than patients.

The California Department of Public Health found that pre-filled Fluvirin syringes by Novartis lacked a safety device that protects healthcare workers from needlesticks, according to a report from the International Sharps Injury Prevention Society (ISIPS). These products have been distributed nationwide.

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