Archive for: June, 2009

Office workers need flu protection, too

By: June 30th, 2009 Email This Post Print This Post

Much that has been written about protecting workers from pandemic influenza applies to clinical settings, but employees in general office settings need protection, and employers can play a significant role in protecting workers, according to CDC guidance, posted June 25.

General Business and Workplace Guidance for the Prevention of Novel Influenza A (H1N1) Flu in Workers applies to employers with workers who face minimal occupational contact with the general public and other coworkers, such as office employees (See the OSHA risk pyramid on p. 11 of Preparing Workplaces for Influenza Pandemic). If the administrative and business functions of your healthcare facility are separate from patient care areas, this guidance may be more relevant than the guidance on protecting healthcare workers in clinical settings.

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Weekly Poll: Summer dress codes

By: June 29th, 2009 Email This Post Print This Post

Once the warm weather of summer hits many facilities are inclined to allow some leniency with their dress code policy. We’ve already discussed workplace attire including the safety and infection control hazards of capri style scrubs and Crocs,  but what do you think? Do relaxed summer dress codes put employees at risk or is it an opportunity for flexibility?

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Notes From the field: High-level disinfecting AND autoclaving?

By: June 26th, 2009 Email This Post Print This Post

Recently, I have noticed this issue during several of my mock OSHA inspections. Glutaraldehyde should only be used to disinfect heat-sensitive instruments. When the soaking time is long enough, most high-level disinfectants can achieve complete sterilization.

If an instrument has been manufactured to withstand heat, it should be autoclaved (sterilized)

Some physician offices are using the glutaraldehyde as a soaking solution, AND autoclaving the instrument.

This is over-kill.

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A fashion faux pas in the laboratory

By: June 25th, 2009 Email This Post Print This Post

We’ve all seen how fashion trends can sometimes infiltrate the laboratory or medical facility. Crocs, for example, have been one of the most debated fashion statements in the healthcare setting.

So it’s no surprise that a certain style of scrubs have fallen into this category as well.

I recently received a question regarding capri style scrub pants (which cut off just below the knees). This supervisor wanted to know if laboratory techs and phlebotomists are allowed to wear these as long as they wear closed-toe shoes.

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Community-acquired MRSA could skew your numbers

By: June 24th, 2009 Email This Post Print This Post

As if there wasn’t enough to impede the prevention of healthcare-acquired MRSA (HA-MRSA), it seems that community-acquired MRSA (CA-MRSA) could have a significant effect on current and future prevention efforts.

Researchers from the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, SC, presented data at the 36th International APIC Meeting in Fort Lauderdale, FL, which showed the impact of USA 300 CA-MRSA on the healthcare facility over a four-year period.

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Last chance to take the OSHA Healthcare Advisor survey; win a training video

By: June 24th, 2009 Email This Post Print This Post

I just wanted to call your attention to our visitor survey which we will be closing in a short time.

We are so pleased with the number of visitors to the OSHA Healthcare Advisor that we want to know you better.

Click here to take the short survey. If you answer all the questions, you will be eligible to win a FREE “Respirator Safety for Healthcare Workers” training video.

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CDC report: Follow recommendations or risk swine flu infections

By: June 23rd, 2009 Email This Post Print This Post

A CDC report links instances of patient-to-healthcare professional (HCP) infection of novel influenza H1N1 to improper personal protective equipment (PPE) usage.

Though covering only a small number of potential or probable causes of infection, “Novel Influenza A (H1N1) Virus Infections Among Health-Care Personnel — United States, April–May 2009” states: “Most of the probable or possible patient-to-HCP transmissions in this report occurred in situations where the use of PPE was not in accordance with CDC recommendations.”

The report, which appears in the June 19 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report analyzes healthcare worker usage of gloves, surgical masks, N95 respirators, and eye protection when caring for flu patients. It also examines worker characteristics and facility types. Here are some of the highlights.

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Ask the expert: Vaccinations and out-of-pocket expenses

By: June 22nd, 2009 Email This Post Print This Post

Q: My Medical director wants our practice to bill the employee’s insurance for the cost of the hepatitis B virus (HBV) vaccination. I disagree. What do you think?

A: Your instinct is correct.  Enforcement Procedures for the Occupational Exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens states: “The employer may not permit the employee to use his or her healthcare insurance to pay for the series unless the employer pays all of the cost of the health insurance and unless there is no cost to the employee in the form of deductibles, co-payments, or other expenses.”

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Weekly Poll: Are respirators neccessary?

By: June 22nd, 2009 Email This Post Print This Post

A recent position paper by the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA) recommends the use of surgical masks as opposed to N95 respirators for protection against the H1N1 virus. According the paper, SHEA is in ongoing discussions with the CDC regarding this type of protection, particularly during flu season.

What do you think of this advice? Would you rather wear a surgical mask than a respirator?

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Ask the expert: Terrorist attacks and OSHA violations

By: June 19th, 2009 Email This Post Print This Post

Q: This may appear to be a weird question, but would OSHA fine a business for worker injuries from a terrorist attack?

A: OSHA would not apply enforcement procedures because of the unforeseeable nature of such a workplace emergency, according to a May 25, 2004 letter of interpretation.

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Laboratory recordkeeping requirements

By: June 18th, 2009 Email This Post Print This Post

Since this blog began there have been a number of questions regarding record keeping. OSHA requires specific records for laboratories, each with designated retention, so keeping track of them can be tricky.

But these records are a requirement during an inspection. ISO 15189: 2003 contains specific requirements for medical labs, but these standards are not required by law. Therefore you must pay particular attention to recordkeeping requirements from federal authorities such as OSHA and the Environmental Protection Agency, as well as the Joint Commission and CAP if you are an accredited facility.

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Thoughts from the APIC conference

By: June 17th, 2009 Email This Post Print This Post

For those of you who didn’t make it to the APIC conference last week, or for those who did and didn’t make it to all the sessions they wanted to, here are a few of my own thoughts from last week.

Obviously there was quite a bit of education surrounding pandemic planning and how hospitals and government agencies reacted to the H1N1 outbreaks. Even before the World Health Organization declared an official pandemic, many of us were worried about what the fall might bring.

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