Archive for: March, 2010

New study evens the playing field for surgical masks and N95s

By: March 31st, 2010 Email This Post Print This Post

When it comes to respiratory protection against H1N1, the CDC says N95s should be used during close contact with possibly infected patients, a recommendation many healthcare experts have debated, but OSHA has enforced.

Now a new study out of Japan indicates that surgical masks provide just as much protection against H1N1.

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CMS inspections find infection control lapses in two-thirds of ASCs

By: March 31st, 2010 Email This Post Print This Post

A report from the Fifth Decennial International Conference on Healthcare-Associated Infections indicates that a pilot study of government inspections of ambulatory surgery centers (ASC) found roughly two-thirds of ASCs have infection control deficiencies.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) conducted surveys at 68 ASCs in three states (32 in Maryland, 16 in North Carolina, and 20 in Oklahoma) between June and October of 2008 using the new survey tool created in collaboration with the CDC. This survey worksheet became a routine audit tool for ASC inspections starting in October 2009. 

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Mandatory flu shots: It’s about patient safety

By: March 30th, 2010 Email This Post Print This Post

The issue of mandatory flu shots for healthcare workers was a lightening rod for comments, both pro and con, during the H1N1 influenza pandemic (Click here and here to see for yourself).

Now in the calmer aftermath of the H1N1 case spike, a recent HealthLeaders article reports on how the Hospital Corporation of America (HCA) was able to substantially increase vaccination rates with workers among its 163-hospitals. Here are some highlights from a teleconference with Jonathan Perlin, MD, HCA’s president of clinical services and chief medical officer:

  • The 2009 H1N1 pandemic was a good reminder that, historically, inadequate healthcare worker vaccination is an often overlooked patient safety issue.
  • Having healthcare workers stay home when they feel sick is not sufficient to protect patients as studies have shown that infected workers may have few or no flu symptoms or that individuals can still transmit the flu 24 hours before showing symptoms.
  • The HCA influenza prevention strategy policy required that employees who could infect—or become infected—by a patient receive the seasonal influenza vaccine, wear a surgical mask in patient care areas, or be reassigned to non-patient contact roles.
  • A group representing HCA emergency preparedness, infection prevention, human resources, legal, pharmacy, communications, and supply was formed to implement non-vaccine strategies, such as cough etiquette, hand hygiene, cleaning techniques, and the “hazards of presenteeism.”
  • Out of the 140,599 employees offered influenza vaccination, 96% accepted.
  • Reason for declining immunizations were: allergy (12%), contraindicated (7%), fear (4%), pregnant (1%), religion (3%), and no reason given (73%).
  • “The response from our employees was overwhelmingly positive. Our employees have embraced it as a patient safety issue,” Perlin said.

For more details, read Hospitals Make Employee Flu Vaccinations a Patient Safety Issue.

CDC on H1N1 vaccine expiration dates and storage

By: March 30th, 2010 Email This Post Print This Post

Have you noticed that some H1N1 influenza vaccines have an extra long expiration date? Sanofi Pasteur multi-dose vials, for example, have expiration dates into next year, 2011, as compared to the typical June 30th expiration date for seasonal flu vaccines, according the CDC’s new FAQ, 2009 H1N1 Influenza Vaccine with Long-Dated Expiration Questions and Answers.

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Ask the expert: OSHA potpourri—TB skin tests, postexpsoure evaluation, and HBV titers

By: March 29th, 2010 Email This Post Print This Post

Q: I just attended an OSHA course and I believe I was given incorrect info. I was told: dental offices must test employees yearly for TB;  an employee cannot refuse evaluation by a health care provider after a needlestick; titers are not required after a hepatitis B vaccination.  Can you clarify these topics?

A: I think you may have received some incorrect advice, at least if the instructor purported it to be OSHA-specific. Hopefully the information below will clear up some of your questions.

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Weekly poll: Laundering scrubs

By: March 29th, 2010 Email This Post Print This Post

The issue of where to wash scrubs has been debated among health experts for some time. Some believe the facility should be responsible in order to avoid the transmission of infections and bloodborne pathogens. Others don’t think there is a risk involved. AORN recommends laundering scrubs at a designated laundry facility rather than having employees wash scrubs at home.

Most facilities have their own policy on the issue. What does your facility do?

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New rule protects healthcare workers from ethylene oxide exposure from sterilizers

By: March 26th, 2010 Email This Post Print This Post

In a recent issue of HCPro’s Hospital Safety Connection, my colleague, Scott Wallask, senior editor, provided good information on the new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulation for healthcare facilities using ethylene oxide (EtO) sterilization. In addition to environmental concerns, the new rule has workplace health and safety ramifications as well. Here’s the article:

As of March 1, a single chamber process (i.e., sterilization and aeration occurring in the same chamber) is required for EtO treatment of medical equipment.

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Deadline approaches for workplace safety shutterbugs

By: March 26th, 2010 Email This Post Print This Post

There is still time for safety officers who harbor paparazzi instincts to submit photographs on the theme: “Healthy workplaces: My Work, my Health.”

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), regional office of the World Health Organization, is sponsoring the contest as part of “2010 World Day for Safety and Health at Work.”

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Ask the expert: Unlabeled containers and immediate use

By: March 25th, 2010 Email This Post Print This Post

Q: Please state the regulation allowing the removal of a chemical/medication from it’s original  container and placing it into another “unmarked” container for a “small” amount of time and then using it.  What defines a “small” amount of time?

A: First of all the OSHA regulation you allude to is only for hazardous chemicals. I know of none for unlabeled medications, as would be expected.

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There is mold in my wall, is it a safety issue?

By: March 25th, 2010 Email This Post Print This Post

Q: We have a wall that is lumpy in appearance. Is this a safety issue?

A: This can be a very serious mold issue. Check with your plant engineering department for a proper assessment and clean-up if necessary.

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Simple best practices can drastically reduce MRSA infections

By: March 24th, 2010 Email This Post Print This Post

No matter the size or specialty of your healthcare facility, MRSA prevention is probably a chief concern, particularly MRSA that could be transmitted with then facility.

Fortunately, the solution to preventing MRSA transmission is based on widely published, evidence-based best practices. Furthermore, researchers at the Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center have proven that rigorous adherence to these methods will reduce MRSA infections.

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Personal protective equipment for your stethoscope

By: March 24th, 2010 Email This Post Print This Post

One inventive Massachusetts physician has come up with a way to protect patients from bacteria on the most common medical equipment found slung around the necks of doctors and nurses.

Previously, Richard Ma, a physician at Saints Medical Center in Lowell, MA, had been putting a latex glove over the end of his stethoscope before examining a patient with a communicable disease, according to an article in The Boston Globe.

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