Archive for: October, 2015

Healthcare needs to get real about active shooters

By: October 27th, 2015 Email This Post Print This Post

I had the pleasure yesterday of spending a day at the 2015 annual conference of the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP), which is being held here in my beautiful hometown of Boston.

Being in the safety business, I sat in on a session about active shooter response preparation in healthcare facilities, led by an emergency physician and security director with Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte. I didn’t leave with that feeling like we have our collective act together.

Are we really ready for someone to come into our hospitals with a gun, bent on causing mass carnage?

First, let’s start with the numbers. From 2000-2007, there were “only” about 6 shootings a year. From 2007 to today, the numbers jumped to 17 per year.

Many facilities are following the government’s recommendations to “run, hide, and fight” when confronted with a gunman. That’s fine training, if you’re in an office building. Run first, hide when you can, and fight back as a last resort.

But that won’t fly in hospitals and clinics where people are counting on you to help them survive. Poll numbers I heard quoted estimate that at least 40% of healthcare staff wouldn’t leave their patients’ sides, even when confronted with a shooter.

Hospitals need to train their staff to stay alive. Most active shooter incidents end within 7 minutes, and doctors and nurses are then required to turn around and treat the wounded and prevent as much death as possible.

So my question is this: What are you doing to prepare for an active shooter in your facility? Do you have specific plans? Are you training your staff, and what resources are you using?

Please drop me a line at and share your thoughts on this very real threat.


John Palmer


Free Tools Friday: Fire Drill Evaluation Form

By: October 23rd, 2015 Email This Post Print This Post

It’s October, folks, which means it’s Fire Prevention Month. What have you done to promote fire safety in your facility?

There’s a good chance you’ve been too busy to schedule or plan an in-service training session for your staff, so we’re going to make it easy for you.

It’s Free Tools Friday, and we have for you a Fire Drill Evaluation Form that you can download and use for your own facility.

Take a half hour to practice your fire alarms, as well as your evacuation procedures and make sure everyone knows where they should go if a fire breaks out. While you’re at it, have the local fire department come in and do a free demonstration of how to use a fire extinguisher.

Also, check out all of our other useful tools here.

Upcoming webcast: Hazardous Waste Disposal in Healthcare: Remain in Compliance and Keep Workers Safe

By: October 21st, 2015 Email This Post Print This Post

Complicated rules surround hazardous waste disposal and healthcare facilities want to reduce volume to save costs, but run the risk of not complying with the many regulations and agencies that monitor waste streams.

The EPA, DOT, Joint Commission, and other regulatory agencies require hospitals to adhere to strict guidelines when it comes to the handling and disposal of hazardous medical wastes. Ebola and other high-profile health scares create bio-hazardous wastes that normal trash haulers can’t handle, and pressure hospitals to find alternate ways to handle their waste.

Meanwhile, the EPA is proposing broad new changes that affect the way healthcare facilities process pharmaceuticals and other hazardous wastes that may go into effect in 2016. This webcast will help you know what to expect and when these changes may occur.

Join expert speakers Marge McFarlane, PhD, MT (ASCP), CHSP, CHFM, HEM, MEP, CHEP, and waste management and regulatory compliance consultant Darrell J. Oman for a 90-minute webcast, Hazardous Waste Disposal in Healthcare: Remain in Compliance and Keep Workers Safe, that will take place Wednesday, November 11 from 1-2:30 p.m.

During the program, attendees will:

  • Differentiate EPA, DOT, and OSHA compliance requirements for healthcare wastes and waste management programs
  • Link compliance with accreditation organizations (The Joint Commission, DNV, CMS, CAP) with EPA, DOT, and OSHA requirements
  • Describe the five (5) primary steps to implementing a healthcare campus-wide hazardous waste program
  • Compare a facility’s EPA environmental compliance readiness with actual case studies
  • Identify and anticipate upcoming proposed regulatory changes in hazardous waste disposal and how that will affect operations at their facility

Don’t miss this opportunity to hear practical advice and have complex regulations simplified in this program suitable for your whole organization.

For more information and to register for the webcast, call HCPro customer service at 800-650-6787 or visit the HCPro Marketplace.

Free Tools Friday: “Scrooge List” for holiday decorations

By: October 9th, 2015 Email This Post Print This Post

It’s October, and if you’re like me you’re pretty excited about Halloween, and so too are your employees.

That excitement tends to be the bane of a lot of healthcare safety folks, who find they have to constantly remind their workers about the dangers of hanging decorations around the workplace to celebrate their spookiness.

Well, you don’t have to ban all decorations, but certainly there are some restrictions that must be followed. For Free Tools Friday, we have a “Scrooge list” that you can follow to help make your holiday celebration safer around the workplace.

Find this and our other many useful tools here.

October is time to review fire safety

By: October 6th, 2015 Email This Post Print This Post

Dan Scungio, MT(ASCP), SLS, is a laboratory safety officer for Sentara Healthcare, a multihospital system in the Tidewater region of Virginia and otherwise known as “Dan, the Lab Safety Man.”

Every year I love to use autumn as the time to discuss fire safety. After all, many other organizations promote fire safety ever since October was designated as National Fire Prevention Month in 1922. This year, as always, I do want lab safety professionals to be “fired up” about safety, but there have been some questions about regulations in this area that need special discussion.

The College of American Pathologists (CAP) is the accrediting agency for many labs in the United States, and they have specific regulations about fire safety on their General Checklist.

One regulation states: “If the fire safety plan includes laboratory staff use of fire extinguishers, personnel are instructed in the use of portable fire extinguishers.”

If fire extinguishers are present in your laboratory, their purpose is to be used by the staff in the department, whether or not the safety plan includes staff using them or not. OSHA has something to say about this as well:

“If fire extinguishers are available for employee use, it is the employer’s responsibility to educate employees on the principles and practices of using a fire extinguisher and the hazards associated with fighting small or developing fires.”

The CAP checklist strongly recommends that staff have hands-on fire extinguisher operation that includes the actual use of the device (or a simulator). They do not indicate how often this training should occur. Many labs I have inspected only provide the training once, but OSHA states that it must be provided upon hire and annually thereafter. That makes sense, and lab staff should be ever-ready and able to extinguish a small fire should that become necessary.

Some facilities offer fire extinguisher training as they need to empty out their refillable extinguishers (typically CO2 extinguishers). However, if that does not happen where you are, you have other options. One is to contact your local fire authority. They may happily provide fire extinguisher training for your staff. Another option is to provide the training yourself. You may be able to obtain a test extinguisher or you may simply have to use a full extinguisher without actually discharging it. The important thing is to go through all of the steps of PASS (Pull, Aim, Squeeze, and Sweep) and to let the staff actually handle the fire extinguisher.

If you are providing the training, make sure you give some information about fires that people may not know. Describe the different classes of fires (A, B, and C) and the types of fire extinguishers used to fight them. Remind them not to use more than one extinguisher at a time so they do not blow a small fire onto another person. Tell them to always keep themselves between the fire and the exit. If the fire gets too big or out of control, make sure they leave the firefighting to the professionals.

Inspect your lab for fire risks. Are electrical cords frayed? This is a major cause of fires in the laboratory. Are items stored too close to the ceiling? This may block the action of your sprinkler system. Are ceiling tiles missing or out of place? This disrupts an important fire and smoke barrier. Who performs these inspections? You can, or your local fire authority can as well.

Autumn is a great time to raise fire safety awareness in your laboratory, but this is something that must be done all year. Drill your staff, make sure they know how to react to a real fire. Train them in the use of fire-fighting equipment. Walk your evacuation routes annually. Your staff truly cannot be too prepared.

Have you performed fire drills this year? Have your staff had hands-on fire extinguisher training? If not, it’s a great time to perform these tasks. Many people in history have lost their lives to fires, and laboratory fires are more common than you may think. Be aware, be ready, and ensure your staff remains safe if a fire situation does occur in your workplace.




Controversial Subjects for Research Paper

By: October 5th, 2015 Email This Post Print This Post

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