Archive for: June, 2014

Top safety myths – and the truth

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

Hi folks –

It’s that time of month when I’m finalizing stories for Medical Environment Update, and I thought I’d share a snippet of what I am writing for the August issue. Our safety experts shared with us some of the most common safety misconceptions, and the truth behind them:

Healthcare air is squeaky clean – With so many engineering standards out there requiring different levels of air exchanges and airborne infectious diseases, it would be easy to assume that air quality in healthcare offices are among the cleanest you can find, right?

You’d be surprised how wrong you’d be, say some experts, who say great air quality in healthcare is somewhat of a myth, especially in small clinics in older buildings that might not have updated filtration systems.

“Air quality is a nightmare for safety people, because people expect that air inside a building is sterile, and that it is being filtered out,” says Bruce Cunha, RN, MS, COHNS, manager of employee health safety, Marshfield Clinic, Marshfield, WI. “They do a good job, but you have doors opening, and people walking in and out every day. You’re never going to have the environment that people say they want.”

I use those cleaning supplies at home, so they’re safe – There are so many kinds of cleaning materials that we bring into our homes, and something like bleach is considered a common staple of household cleaning. Yet, in the medical world, they are considered hazardous chemicals. What does that mean for you? Make sure you have the proper PPE to handle them, make sure your staff is trained, and for hazardous chemical in your facility, you better know where that all-important SDS sheet is.

OSHA won’t come here – Even the most seasoned veteran safety officials who have never experienced an OSHA inspection in their many years on the job keep in the back of their heads that an inspector could walk in at any time.

Even if you don’t have a complaint lodged against you, OSHA can be sneaky. An inspector could be keeping an eye on our facility for safety violations if he happens to be on site for one of many other reasons.

“They have probably been to your facility more than you think,” said Dan Scungio, MT (ASCP), SLS, Laboratory Safety Officer for Sentara Healthcare, a multi-hospital system in the Tidewater region of Virginia. “If an inspector goes there to look at a construction site or worker injury – someone who cut their finger off or something – you’re not going to know that if you are working in the lab. They could take a look at worker records, etc., and you may not even know they are in the building. All it takes is one little trail that leads into the lab.”

Still time to sign up for Safe Sharps webinar!

By: June 23rd, 2014 Email This Post Print This Post

Needlesticks continue to present risks in the medical workplace. Thousands of people are stuck each year, despite the growth of safety devices and strict bloodborne pathogens standards.

You are invited to join us at HCPro for a special 90-minute webcast on Wednesday, June 25 from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Eastern time to learn how to reduce needlesticks and encourage physicians, nurses, and other staff to buy into a safe sharps program.

Infection prevention and patient safety experts Peg Luebbert and Kathy Rooker will be our guest speakers. Peg Luebbert, MS, CIC, CHSP, has worked in the fields of infection prevention and healthcare safety for more than 30 years in a variety of facilities including large and small acute care hospitals, long-term care, long-term acute care, and ambulatory surgeries. She is certified in infection prevention and healthcare safety. She has also presented and published on the local and national level. Kathy Rooker has over 40 years of experience in the Healthcare field. The many facets of her background help her have a better understanding of the challenges physician offices and healthcare facilities face when it comes to OSHA compliance.  Kathy started her career in a hospital laboratory and has worked as a Medical Assistant, Office Manager, and the Director of Practice Management for an Ohio Hospital System. Kathy started her Consulting Business in 2009 specializing in OSHA and small physician office labs.

This program will:

  • Provide instruction on how to get physicians, nurses, and all staff to buy into a safe sharps program
  • Explain the regulatory requirements regarding needlestick prevention
  • Describe proper prevention techniques and safety practices
  • Outline what to do if a needlestick occurs
  • Explain how to properly document needlestick incidents and provides forms and tools

If you can’t join us 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!

It’s a great value at just $199. Click here to register at the HCPro Marketplace.

Safety week was a success!

By: June 19th, 2014 Email This Post Print This Post

Hi Everyone!

I just wanted to say thank you to the many readers who submitted answers for the Safety Week Trivia Contest. After a random drawing of the correct answers I am happy to announce that Dolly Rasmussen is the winner of the $100 gift certificate for any products in the HCPro Marketplace. Congratulations!

For those who want to check their answers, please find the correct answers to the trivia questions below

1. According to OSHA, work-related injuries and illnesses affect how many hospital workers every year? Answer: 253,700 work-related injuries and illnesses, a rate of 6.8 work-related injuries and illnesses for every 100 full-time employees.
2. The National Safety Council recommends several tips for reducing slips, trips, and falls in the home and workplace. Name three of them.

Varied Answers: Examples include wearing slip resistant shoes, keeping floors clean and dry, clean up spills immediately, and keep aisles and passageways clear and in good repair, and well lit.

3. According to OSHA, which type of injury is the most prevalent in hospitals, affecting at least 50% of healthcare workers?

Answer: Sprains and Strains or musculoskeletal injuries

4. The National Safety Council was founded in what year? 1913

5. OSHA has a new website devoted to worker safety in hospitals. What is that website’s URL?   https://www.osha.gov/dsg/hospitals/

Guest Column: Hand in Mouth

By: June 16th, 2014 Email This Post Print This Post

The following is an occasional series of guest blogs by experts in the medical clinic safety field. If you would like to be featured in this blog as a guest columnist, please email John Palmer at jpalmer@hcpro.com

The safety culture varies greatly from laboratory to laboratory. Most lab employees these days know that eating food or drinking in the lab is against most (if not all) lab regulatory agency rules and guidelines. However, it is surprising that many do not seem to understand that gum chewing or using hard candy or throat lozenges is also not permitted in a laboratory setting.

OSHA’s Bloodborne Pathogen Standard specifically states that “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.” Obviously the goal of this regulation is to prevent employees from obtaining infection via ingestion. A secondary goal is to limit hand to mouth contact while working in the laboratory. That goal is also to there to prevent ingestion infection.

So far there has been no mention of gum or cough drops in the standards, and you’re going to tell me your staff is going to argue against this.

In the National Research Council’s Prudent Practices in the Laboratory (1995), it states that “Eating, drinking, smoking, gum chewing, applying cosmetics, and taking medicine in laboratories where hazardous chemicals are used should be strictly prohibited.” In CLSI’s document Clinical Laboratory Safety (GP-17 A3, 2012), it states that “Food, drink, and substances that provide potential hand-to-mouth contact (including chewing gum and lip balm) are pro­hibited in technical work areas.”

Most inspectors of the laboratory will cite the lab for gum chewing or the like. An employee may respond that the gum was placed into their mouth outside the lab, but proving that would be difficult at best. It’s an inappropriate and unsafe practice, and it should not be allowed.

Again, limit hand-to-mouth or hand-to-face contact in the laboratory. What about telephone use? There are speaker options for phones which can help, but some labs are too noisy for that type of use. Disinfect phones often if that is the case.

As with any other safety regulation, if you explain it to staff, and if you make it easy to comply, your safety culture will improve. Educate your staff about these guidelines and standards and why they exist. Unfortunately, many laboratorians fell victim to harmful infectious diseases before these regulations were developed. Don’t let your staff become another part of those unfortunate lab safety statistics.

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.

Safety Week guest column: A primer in transferring patients

By: June 12th, 2014 Email This Post Print This Post

The following is an excerpt of a guest column by Bruce Cunha, RN, MS, COHNS, manager of employee health safety, Marshfield Clinic, Marshfield, WI.

The current obesity issues we are seeing in the general population also means that we are seeing heavier patients in our hospitals and clinics.

If someone asked you what patient transfer activities have the greatest potential for causing an injury to a health care worker, you would probably tell them moving a patient from a bed to a gurney or a procedure table. Or perhaps you would tell them repositioning a patient in a bed, or assisting a patient from sitting to standing.

How many of us would include things like pushing a patient in a wheelchair or pushing a gurney?  While these activities may not come to mind as a major cause of injury to healthcare workers, the fact is that pushing patients is one of the more common causes of injuries for healthcare workers.

Have you considered the amount of force it takes to move a patient in a wheelchair, gurney or hospital bed prior to moving that patient?  Do you consider that you may need assistance in pushing a patient?  Most of us would balk if we were asked to push a 400-pound block of concrete across the floor, but what if that 400 pounds was in a wheelchair or in a hospital bed?

Healthcare has a variety of patient handling systems that can be used for lifting, repositioning, sit to stand, and transfers from one surface to another.  Currently, mechanical systems built to push are not as prevalent.

Some manufacturers are producing hospital beds and gurneys that have power wheels. Other companies are producing motorized systems that can hook on to a wheelchair and push the chair.  These systems may not work on all wheelchairs or on some of the larger bariatric wheelchairs.

Other manufacturers produce assistant-driven chairs (motor and steering controls are at the back of the chair so an assistant can operate the chair).

As with other transfer equipment, these devices have weigh limits and finding mechanical equipment that goes above 700 pounds limits the choices significantly.

Cost is always an issue that comes up when looking at safety equipment.  Costs increase as the amount of weight a device can hold and the size of the device gets larger. A standard wheelchair that can hold up to 300 pounds can run $150 to $300. A wider wheelchair with a 600-pound capacity can run $750 to $1,500 or more. Increase that capacity to 750 to 1,000 pounds and the prices go from $1,500 to $3,000.

The overriding issue is that no one person should be pushing much more than 300 pounds.  So when you move up to a chair that can handle 600 pounds, you should be looking at powered chairs. Powered chairs that can be operated by an attendant can run $1,900 to $4,000 for a chair that can handle 600 pounds. Move to 850 pounds and the costs moves to around $8,000 dollars. If you need a powered chair that can hold 1,000 pounds, you are looking at costs of $16,000 to $18,000 dollars.

While the above costs seem like a lot, they have to be compared to what an injury costs.  Injuries from pushing heavy patients typically involve knees, shoulders and backs.   The cost of a knee injury that requires an arthroscopy can run $20,000 or more when you include an MRI, physical therapy, surgery, and time off for recovery. A shoulder surgery can cost $20,000 to $50,000 depending on if it is arthroscopic or open surgery. A back injury can run $5,000 for a strain that requires an MRI, and physical therapy to $50,000 or more if surgery is needed. Add in time off and disability and that can move up towards $100,000. These are for single injuries.

In conclusion, injuries related to handling patients are not just limited to lifting. How we move a patient around our facilities should be included in your patient-handling safety protocol.  Facilities need to address how they will handle larger patients and should have a plan in place for dealing with very heavy patients.

Guest Column: Continuing Chemical Safety

By: June 11th, 2014 Email This Post Print This Post

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

Last year the first deadline is OSHA’s updated Hazard Communication Standard came and went. All employees who work with hazardous chemicals were to have training on the main elements of the update by December 1, 2013. The training was to include information about Safety Date Sheets (formerly called Material Safety Data Sheets) and their new standard format, new chemical labeling requirements, and the universal pictograms which express chemical hazards via symbols.

Did you provide that education? How well can your staff speak to that information? The HazCom update’s effects are not complete in the workplace, and on-going training and education should still be occurring in your lab. By 2015, all chemical manufacturers must convert to the new labeling scheme. However, some chemical manufacturers have already converted to the new system. They are already using the required signal words, hazard statements, and pictograms. How well can your staff identify and explain these items? Can they identify the difference between the signal words “Danger” and “Warning?” Do they know how to properly label a secondary chemical container?

Education about the Safety Date Sheets (SDS) is important as well. Again, chemical manufacturers were given time to convert to the new standard format, but some companies have easily made the conversion. This is important as staff needs to know how to read the updated format and they need to replace the sheets as they update the lab chemical inventory. Talk to staff about particular sections of the SDS. Section four contains information about first aid. Section six discusses accidental release or spill measures. These sections should be accessed quickly if a spill or exposure occurs.

Other chemical hygiene topics remain vital to a lab safety program, even if they are not a part of the HazCom updates of 2012. OSHA’s Laboratory Standard or Chemical Hygiene Standard requires a written lab plan, environmental monitors (where needed), and proper chemical storage.

Even in a smaller laboratory, if hazardous chemicals are used, the regulations of both the Hazard Communication Standard and the Chemical Hygiene Standard apply.  Be sure your staff is educated about the standards’ directives, and provide regular education for the laboratory so that compliance remains consistent and safety becomes the norm.

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.

SAFETY WEEK: Preventing slips, trips and falls

By: June 10th, 2014 Email This Post Print This Post

If you haven’t already, you should check out OSHA’s new Web site dedicated solely for hospitals and preventing worker injuries.

The new “educational web resource,” which was released Jan. 15 in a press conference, is designed as an online tool with materials to help hospitals prevent worker injuries, assess workplace safety needs, enhance safe patient handling programs and implement safety and health management systems.

See the Web site at https://www.osha.gov/dsg/hospitals/.

Workers in the healthcare industry have some of the highest numbers of workplace injuries in the country, and it’s not getting better. 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.

The new website, called “Worker Safety in Hospitals: Caring for Our Caregivers,” is a complete separate section of the OSHA website that focuses mostly on education and resources geared towards understanding the importance and problems of worker safety.

While most healthcare professionals are aware of the inherent risks, perhaps they don’t know just how dangerous the jobs can be. A section on “Understanding the Problem” breaks the hazards down by injuries using fact books containing colorful graphics and photos. Information is available in downloadable PDF files.

An entire section of the site is devoted to safe patient handling skills, an activity which is considered one of the most dangerous that healthcare workers face. Visitors can start by reading case studies about successes that hospitals have had after introducing safe patient handling programs in their facilities, and a downloadable checklist is a good start for assessing a hospitals patient handling situation. Finally, there is a Q&A about myths surrounding the costs of mechanical patient handling equipment and culture changes, as well as customizable posters to educate patients and their families on the patient handling processes in a facility.

One of the most impressive, and perhaps most helpful features of the site, is several case studies with hospitals across the U.S. that have instituted safe patient handling programs in their facilities, and the results they gotten from them.

Upcoming Webcast: Needlestick Prevention

By: June 10th, 2014 Email This Post Print This Post

Needlesticks continue to present risks in the medical workplace. Thousands of people are stuck each year, despite the growth of safety devices and strict bloodborne pathogens standards.

You are invited to join us at HCPro for a special 90-minute webcast on Wednesday, June 25 from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Eastern time to learn how to reduce needlesticks and encourage physicians, nurses, and other staff to buy into a safe sharps program.

Infection prevention and patient safety experts Peg Luebbert and Kathy Rooker will be our guest speakers. Peg Luebbert, MS, CIC, CHSP, has worked in the fields of infection prevention and healthcare safety for more than 30 years in a variety of facilities including large and small acute care hospitals, long-term care, long-term acute care, and ambulatory surgeries. She is certified in infection prevention and healthcare safety. She has also presented and published on the local and national level. Kathy Rooker has over 40 years of experience in the Healthcare field. The many facets of her background help her have a better understanding of the challenges physician offices and healthcare facilities face when it comes to OSHA compliance.  Kathy started her career in a hospital laboratory and has worked as a Medical Assistant, Office Manager, and the Director of Practice Management for an Ohio Hospital System. Kathy started her Consulting Business in 2009 specializing in OSHA and small physician office labs.

This program will:

  • Provide instruction on how to get physicians, nurses, and all staff to buy into a safe sharps program
  • Explain the regulatory requirements regarding needlestick prevention
  • Describe proper prevention techniques and safety practices
  • Outline what to do if a needlestick occurs
  • Explain how to properly document needlestick incidents and provides forms and tools

If you can’t join us 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!

It’s a great value at just $199. Click here to register at the HCPro Marketplace.

Test your safety knowledge and win $100 off HCPro products!

By: June 9th, 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 8-14) to preventing slips, trips, and falls, one of the most prevalent causes of injuries to workers in the healthcare industry.

We’re celebrating safety week by offering lots of free giveaways, raffles, and discounts on all your favorite safety products. Win a $100 gift certificate good for any product on the HCPro Marketplace by answering the following five trivia questions correctly.

Send your responses to Managing Editor John Palmer at jpalmer@hcpro.com by Friday, June 13. Winners will be chosen randomly from the responses received.

1. According to OSHA, work-related injuries and illnesses affect how many hospital workers every year?

2. The National Safety Council recommends several tips for reducing slips, trips, and falls in the home and workplace. Name three of them.

3. According to OSHA, which type of injury is the most prevalent in hospitals, affecting at least 50% of healthcare workers?

4. The National Safety Council was founded in what year?

5. OSHA has a new website devoted to worker safety in hospital. What is that website’s URL?

Kick off Slips, Trips, and Falls Prevention Week with 20% off!

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

The National Safety Council has designated the month of June as National Safety Month. Specifically, the group has dedicated the second week of June (June 8-14) to preventing slips, trips, and falls, one of the most prevalent causes of injuries to workers in the healthcare industry.

To recognize this important issue, HCPro is offering lots of free giveaways, raffles, and discounts on all your favorite safety products.

To kick off the week, use discount code SAFMO2014 good for 20% off any HCPro product of your choice during this week.

Start using your discount today by clicking here to visit the HCPro Marketplace

A reminder – next week is Safety Week!

By: June 5th, 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 8-14) 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!

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