Archive for: October, 2013

Looking ahead to 2014

By: October 29th, 2013 Email This Post Print This Post

It’s hard to imagine, but the end of the year is upon us and I’m already working on the December issue of Medical Environment Update and the January issue of Briefings on Hospital Security.

I’d like to ask for my reader’s input. Whether you are a safety expert in a medical clinic or a hospital, what are the top issues that you think will affect the safety industry over the next year? What are your biggest concerns?

Thank you in advance. I may use some of your comments in an upcoming story! As always, you can also send me an email at

John Palmer

Happy Infection Control Week!

By: October 22nd, 2013 Email This Post Print This Post

This week, Oct. 20-26, is International Infection Control Week and it bears repeating that improper hand washing remains one of the top causes for spreading disease and infection among healthcare workers and patients, according to the CDC.

As always, make sure you wash your hands before and after treating a patient, eating, or after using the restroom. Don’t cough or sneeze into your hands, and don’t put your fingers near your mouth, nose or eyes.

Most of us don’t wash our hands properly. Make sure you are washing with soap and warm water for at least 30 seconds – long enough to sing Happy Birthday to yourself twice. (Even if it’s not, it will make you feel good!)

Here’s to better health!

Aggressive patient training necessary to stop worker injuries

By: October 18th, 2013 Email This Post Print This Post

This story about a patient attacking a security guard at a New Hampshire hospital is a perfect example of why all staff in hospitals and clinics really should have some behavior management training. The guard was was simply escorting a man back to his room when the man punched him. Using basic restraints and pepper spray, the guard was able to avoid injury until a police officer could come help.

Read the article here: Patient accused of attacking guard at Elliot Hospital

Patient violence is a topic we cover a lot in our newsletters, and we in fact have a story about it in the upcoming November issue of Medical Environment Update, as well as a story in the December issue of Briefings in Hospital Security.

There will always be the question of whether weapons have a place in medical clinics and hospitals to help protect staff, but there should always be ongoing training on defensive tactics, as well as de-escalation techniques that can help defuse a situation before it ever gets violent.

I’ve worked as a campus security officer, Emergency Medical Technician, and even as a special education teacher in a high school, and I have been trained on several different behavior management programs. I can tell you that those programs have been instrumental in talking down a fearful patient or emotionally disturbed person who really just needs someone to talk to. At the very least, a light restraint can actually comfort them enough to get them to calm down.

I’d like to know what tactics you are using in your own clinics and hospitals, and let me know about any success stories that you have seen or difficulties in getting the staff on board.

Reply to this post or drop me a line at Maybe I’ll showcase you in a future story.

Remember to check your stairwells!

By: October 16th, 2013 Email This Post Print This Post

I think it goes without saying that the folks at San Francisco General Hospital feel awful about the media coverage they have been getting surrounding the discovery of the body of a woman who was missing for two weeks. She was apparently recovering after checking herself in for a bladder infection, and while the investigation is still ongoing, doctors suspect she wandered off for a walk, perhaps under the influence of medication.

The body of Lynne Spalding, 57, was found in a stairwell 17 days after she went missing Sept. 21. A nurse had checked in on her about 15 minutes before she went missing and started a hospital-wide search that somehow didn’t include an exterior stairwell used as a fire escape that was apparently alarmed.

I used to do overnight security on a college campus and one of the most important things I did was make the rounds in every campus building, open rarely-opened doors, and have a look-see inside, just to be sure. I think it goes without saying that if you are a medical facility, your security staff should be checking every nook and cranny for intruders – and lost patients. Maybe it’s time for a review of your own security protocols.

New security measures were put into place today at San Francisco General to avoid a tragedy like this again, but you can be sure that OSHA, The Joint Commission, and CMS will be all over this.

See the article: New security measures in place at SF General Hospital

Compliance tips from our experts

By: October 14th, 2013 Email This Post Print This Post

From time to time, we get questions from our readers asking for clarification on some of OSHA’s regulations. As we get closer to the December 1 deadline to be in compliance for the Global Harmonization System, there is bound to be some confusion. Here’s a question from a clinic in Pennsylvania about labeling bottles, and an answer from our expert, Marge McFarlane.


“I would like to know if it is OK to pour cleaning solutions into clear refill bottles and if so, would it be enough to label these bottles with just the name/type of cleaning solution?”


“It is permissible to fill a second container with cleaning chemicals, however the Hazard Communication Standard requires that the secondary containers have all the hazard information off the original label.
The label is intended to be an immediate visual reminder of the hazards of a chemical. Any warning statements and precautions need to be on the secondary label. The only exemption is when the employee uses the container for their shift only and never leave the bottle unattended. I do not see this scenario often with cleaning solutions.

Labeling needs to include the chemical name that matches the MSDS or newer Safety Data Sheet (SDS). Warning statements include information such as “warning” or “danger” and any target organs affected, such as “inhalation may cause lung damage.”

OSHA running on skeleton crew during shutdown

By: October 7th, 2013 Email This Post Print This Post

Your healthcare facility isn’t likely to get a surprise inspection anytime soon. During the government shutdown, which is nearing a week long, OSHA is running on a skeleton crew of only about one-third it’s normal work force, focusing mainly on emergencies. See the entire report below:

OSHA running on skeleton crew

How does government shutdown affect OSHA inspections?

By: October 4th, 2013 Email This Post Print This Post

Chances are you won’t be getting inspected by OSHA anytime soon. During the shutdown, most offices are working on a skeleton crew and concentrating on emergencies only.

Read the entire article below:

How Does the government shutdown affect OSHA?

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