Archive for: February, 2014

Lessons from San Francisco

By: February 18th, 2014 Email This Post Print This Post

One of the stories I have been following very closely in hospital and clinic safety is that of San Francisco General Hospital, a facility that has learned a very difficult lesson in how important it is to have protocols in place to deal with missing patients.

Basically, 57-year-old San Francisco resident Lynne Spalding Ford had admitted herself into the hospital Sept. 19 for treatment of a urinary tract infection. She went missing on Sept. 21 and a hospital engineer found her body on Oct. 8 in a fourth-floor exterior stairwell, which was being used as a fire escape, during a quarterly check of the hospital grounds.

There were obviously many questions as to why it took 17 days to find her body, and ultimately the blame fell on hospital staff, overworked nurses who ignored a doctor’s order to “NEVER” leave her unattended since she was on disorientating drugs. More blame fell on the San Francisco Sheriff’s department, whose deputies searched only 3 of the hospital’s 10 stairwells and didn’t even double check to see what Ford looked like – originally they thought they was looking for a black woman in scrubs when she was actually white in street clothes.

Lastly, several hospital staff were fired or forced to resign because they illegally accessed Ford’s medical records without permission FOUR times.

I could write a book on the rules that were broken here, and you’ve heard them before. I am sure the lawsuits have only begun, and although CMS has done their preliminary investigation you can bet the Joint Commission and OSHA are not far behind.

Take some lessons from San Francisco and apply them to your own facility before it’s too late.

Icy weather reminds us to ‘walk like a penguin.’

By: February 6th, 2014 Email This Post Print This Post

Here in the Boston area, along with a large part of the country (except in Florida, where my mother keeps reminding me that it’s 80 degrees), we are dealing with some downright cold and icy conditions.

It’s this time of year that the clinic safety experts are on their game, reminding their employees and patients of the need to practice safe walking and lifting, especially in the parking lots and entryways, where slippery and untreated surface could lead to nasty slips, trips and falls.

I like the fun technique dreamed up by Bruce Cunha, manager of employee health safety for 60 clinics in Wisconsin, a place where Old Man Winter shows no mercy. You can check out his tips for keeping your clinics safe as well as others in the February issue of Medical Environment Update.

Instead of just a friendly reminder, a music video was produced, reminding employees to “walk like a penguin” – shuffling their feet in sort of a waddling motion, as opposed to the up and down of normal walking. To make it a little more fun, Cunha set the video to music, adding in the 1980s Bangles’ tune “Walk like an Egyptian” and employing volunteers to film themselves demonstrating the proper walking technique. Follow-up included signs in hallways, staff break rooms and other places that would ensure the message would stay in front of them. During the “Walk like a Penguin” campaign, small vinyl penguin footprints were placed on the floors of clinics as a visual reminder.

Cunha says the video worked so well that employees have been singing the songs in the hallways of his clinic, and he plans to produce more videos on topics ranging from food safety to needlestick safety.

“It obviously is getting across,” he says. “I see many people who walk down the hall past me and say ‘I’m walking like a penguin’.”

Stay safe out there. Just think – in about 3 months we’ll complaining about how hot it is.

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