Archive for: May, 2014

CDC backs down on MERS threat – what does it mean?

By: May 30th, 2014 Email This Post Print This Post

By now, you’ve likely heard that the CDC backed down yesterday on its official number of U.S. cases of confirmed MERS patients. This may confuse a lot of people in the healthcare world – especially those in the smaller medical clinics who are concerned that they may be on the front lines in dealing with any future victims of this mysterious new respiratory illness from the Middle East.

The CDC now officially says there are only 2 confirmed cases, down from three last week. The third was a man who was a business associate of the first patient, a healthcare worker who fell ill in Indiana after traveling from the Middle East. This third patient apparently had a two-hour business meeting with the first guy, but he never got sick. He was tested preliminarily, and after more tests he never got sick, and that’s why they backed down on the case count.

Here’s a link to the official CDC press release regarding the MERS situation: http://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2014/p0528-mers.html

I had a lengthy phone call yesterday with Dr. J. Todd Weber, a chief of prevention and response at the CDC, and he gave me their official stance on what’s going on and what healthcare providers should be doing to prepare.

MERS is a coronavirus that originated in camels and over the last two years has somehow made the jump to humans. For the time being, the worst of it seems to be isolated to the Arabian Peninsula and it seems to be affecting mainly healthcare workers who are dealing with patients.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that it reportedly kills about 30% of its victims. Hardly a common cold. A high death count like that brings back memories of the 1918 flu epidemic, the Swine flu and Bird flu, and the big SARS outbreak that devastated Toronto.

The even more good news, Weber told me, is that this is not the flu. I am no virologist here, but Dr. Weber says a Coronavirus lacks the genetic ability to mutate the way the Influenza virus does – which explains why the flu can make a jump so quickly from animals to humans.

What does all this mean for you, the healthcare provider? Do what you always do. Be on the lookout for patients who present with both fever and upper respiratory infections. And make sure you play detective and ask questions. Did the patient travel to the Middle East within the last 14 days, or have contact with someone who did?

And as always – practice good infection control measures. Isolate those who are sick, disinfect your surfaces, and wear your PPE such as masks and gloves.

Dr. Weber stopped short of saying we are out of the woods – a good doctor never does that. There’s always a chance this will find a way to mutate quicker, and as we have seen, the virus can travel on airplanes to other places in the world. But panic never helps, and the CDC did the right thing by backing down their previous warnings.

 

Protect now against facility flooding

By: May 27th, 2014 Email This Post Print This Post

It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost a year since parts of the Midwest such as Illinois and Colorado were hit with some of the worst flooding those parts of the country had ever seen.

One of the stories we will be working on for the upcoming August issue of Briefings on Hospital Safety covers the difficulties that hospitals in those areas faced in staying open during the flooding as well as the lessons they learned afterward.

“We expected flooding, but the fact is we didn’t expect the entire county would flood at the same time,” says Chuck Merritt, MS, MT (ASCP), CHSP, Director of Safety, Security and Emergency Management for Boulder Community Health in Boulder, Colorado.

The Boulder area was hit last September with what is being called a 1,000-year flood. Heavy rain combined with snowmelt from surrounding mountains combined to create a maelstrom that took out roads and bridges and literally split individual towns and cities into two.

“Even the county planners will tell you they had planned for one or two watercourses to flood at once, but we had literally seven flooding all at once,” says Merritt.

As recent storms have caused snowmelt in the mountains, emergency planners in those areas may have to put their updated plans into play.

Among the things they learned: Build walls around facilities to keep floodwaters out, make sure evacuation plans are practiced before they are needed, update your drainage systems to make sure water can only flow out of the facility, and make sure you know what your insurance plans will cover before you need to seek federal funds to help recover.

 

Get to the point with needlestick safety

By: May 20th, 2014 Email This Post Print This Post

The following is the first of an occasional series of guest blogs by experts in the medical clinic safety field.

Rita did not place the top on the sharps container when she replaced it in the morning. Later, she threw a Gram stain slide into the container from a distance, and the slide shattered. Pieces of glass and what she felt was wet material flew into Rita’s eye.

Jason accidentally threw out the tube of blood before pouring off all of the send-out tubes of serum he needed. He thought it was safe to reach into the sharps container since he had gloves on. He pulled his hand out quickly when he felt a sudden pain, and he noticed an open bleeding cut through his glove.

Jane was busy and did not have time to replace the wall sharps container next to the phlebotomy chair when she noticed it was full. After the next patient, she activated the needle safety device and tried to shove it into the sharps container even though its safety lid was blocking her efforts. Jane pushed hard to dispose of the needle, and she felt a stinging sensation in her finger when she “succeeded.”

Sharps safety is no small matter. In the above scenarios, the incidents are particularly unsettling because each of those exposures is from unknown sources. There is no way to tell which patient is the exposure source, so it must be assumed the source is infectious. No exposure incident is good, even if the source is known and tested to be negative for HIV and Hepatitis. An unknown source exposure, however, may mean treatment with prophylactic drugs which can have unpleasant physical side effects. There is also follow-up testing and emotional impact for the employee while waiting (up to a year or more) to see if any infectious diseases were contracted.

Be sure to train lab staff properly about sharps safety. Proper activation of safety needle devices should be a part of that training. The correct placement and use of sharps containers is vital as well. Be sure floor or counter-mounted containers are prevented from tipping. Make sure lids are correctly in place in order to prevent splash-back or to keep hand and fingers out. Teach staff never to dig through a sharps container, and to always empty them before they are full.

Sharps safety should be an important piece of your lab’s Bloodborne Pathogens program, staff education on the topic should be regular. Make sure lab staff gets the point … of sharps safety!

Dan Scungio, MT (ASCP), SLS, also known as “Dan the Lab Safety Man,” is a Laboratory Safety Officer for Sentara Healthcare, a multi-hospital system in the Tidewater region of Virginia.

Webcast: Build Nurse Engagement Through Coaching and Mentoring

By: May 14th, 2014 Email This Post Print This Post

Studies show only 30% of your nurses are actively engaged, which can negatively impact patient satisfaction, safety, and nurse turnover. Join us to discover how to engage the rest of your staff.

Join experienced nurse and leadership specialist Patty Kubus, RN, MBA, PhD, on May 28 at 1 p.m. ET for a 90-minute webcast to learn how to build a culture of nurse engagement.

Don’t miss the chance to improve nurse satisfaction, increase your nursing staff’s commitment to the organization, and raise the level of patient care. This webcast will discuss how to build a culture of nurse engagement, which leads to higher productivity, higher patient satisfaction scores, lower turnover, lower absenteeism and fewer safety incidences.

In addition to the expertise and advice presented during this webcast, you’ll also receive a slide presentation of the program materials and tools, including an organizational culture concept map and a personal values exercise.

Can’t listen live? You’ll be able to download the on-demand version at no additional charge when you buy the live version. Use it as a training tool at your convenience—whenever your new or existing staff need a refresher or need to understand a new concept. Play it once or dozens of times!

For more information or to register check out the HCPro Marketplace

Safety Week is coming!

By: May 13th, 2014 Email This Post Print This Post

The National Safety Council, a safety advocate group that promotes safety in homes, workplaces, and communities across the country, has designated the month of June as National Safety Month. Specifically, the group has dedicated the second week of June (June 9-13) to preventing slips, trips, and falls, one of the most prevalent causes of injuries to workers in the healthcare industry.

Workers in the healthcare industry have some of the highest numbers of workplace injuries in the country. According to some estimates, some 650,000 healthcare workers are injured every year, and that’s 150,000 more than the next closest industry – manufacturing. OSHA’s 2012 estimates claim that U.S. hospitals recorded nearly 250,000 work-related injuries and illnesses, almost 58,000 of which caused employees to miss work. Musculoskeletal injuries are the single biggest worker injury in hospitals.

We here at HCPro are planning to celebrate safety week by offering lots of free giveaways, raffles, and discounts on all your favorite safety products that we offer. Keep an eye out for information in our blogs, ezines, and websites!

Nurses Week giveaway of preceptor and preceptee handbooks

By: May 8th, 2014 Email This Post Print This Post

HCPro is celebrating and recognizing nurses all week long with special giveaways, prizes, and promotions.

We are giving away FREE copies of The Effective Preceptor Handbook for Nurses and The Essential Preceptee Handbook!

Transform your preceptor/preceptee program with these cutting-edge resources. Enter to win five copies of each handbook!

The Effective Preceptor Handbook for Nurses provides new preceptors with the evidence-based skills they need to build supportive one-on-one teaching and learning relationships with new nurses.

The Essential Preceptee Handbook provides new staff members with the guidance they need to build supportive relationships with their preceptors and acclimate to the work environment and culture.

Click here to enter to win!

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