More ambulatory surgery centers taking OSHA hits

By: November 3rd, 2011 Email This Post Print This Post

With more than half of the surgeries in the U.S. performed in ambulatory care settings, ambulatory surgery centers (ASC) and physician offices are under higher scrutiny from OSHA to protect healthcare workers from bloodborne pathogens hazards, according to a two-part series of articles published in October and November editions of the AORN Journal. In fact, violations for such hazards make up the majority of OSHA medical facility citations in recent years, report the Journal.

Outdated or nonexistent exposure control plans, poor documentation, failing to use safety devices and the lack of free training during working hours, were the most common violations for ASCs, according to “Complying With the Bloodborne Pathogen Standard: Protecting Health Care Workers and Patients” and “Bloodborne Pathogen Violations: Compliance Is Key to Prevention,” which are available to subscribers on the AORN Journal web site.

For similar reports on Bloodborne Pathogens Standard violations in ambulatory care settings, see the September and October issues of Medical Environment Update. Also the OSHA Healthcare Advisor Tools page has a free downloads of frequent and expensive bloodborne pathogens fines in medical and dental practices from July 1, 2009, to June 30, 2010.


By Daniel McBride on November 9th, 2011 at 8:57 am

Regarding OSHA BBP rule 1910.1030 (d)(2)(ix), “Eating, drinking, smoking, applying cosmetics or lip balm, and handling contact lenses are prohibited in work areas where there is a reasonable likelihood of occupational exposure.” I have always interpreted this to mean that there should be no food or drink in nurses’ stations, since such items as charts, keyboards, and other supplies may be present where there may be contamination with blood or OPIM. Is this interpretation correct?

I think this is one of the most misunderstood parts of the regulations. I have always allowed drinks in covered containers as long as they are not in the area(s) where specimens are placed. This includes pop-top cans and screw on bottle caps. Though charts, keybords and other office supplies mentioned above may be contaminated by an unseen pathogen, they are not usually contaminated with blood and other body fluids. IF they are they need to be immediately cleaned. The best way to prevent migration of specimens is to designate an area where they are placed so drinks are kept out of that area. Hydration is important and many staff are very busy so running to another area for water,coffee and other beverages is not always easy. We need to enforce this in a practical manner and not too punatively. I have always thought that eating at the stations and charting areas looked poor so have not allowed this even though chance of contamination is very small if you adhere to the above guidelines. This also helps staff take the meal break they deserve. We have had OSHA inspections at 3 facilities where I have worked and have never been cited for the drinks in stations and charting areas.

By David LaHoda on November 9th, 2011 at 11:51 am

Thoughtful comment, Marti. I would just like to point out that having lids on beverage cups doesn’t automatically get you in compliance with OSHA, which as an interpretation letter on that specific point. See my post “Requirements for covered beverages at nurses’ stations,” which has a link to the OSHA letter.

By Daniel McBride on November 9th, 2011 at 2:28 pm

Thank you David! Very helpful…

What “poor documentation” are your referring to?


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