Archive for: January, 2016

Seeking input on waste management book

By: January 27th, 2016 Email This Post Print This Post

Hi folks –

Once again, it’s time to ask your opinion about books we at the Safety group at HCPro are working on.

Our latest effort, due out in May, will be a book about hazardous waste handling and management in hospitals, with an eye on regulatory compliance and worker safety.

As you may know, the EPA is considering proposed new regulations governing pharmaceutical waste. Rules currently under review include banning pharmaceutical flushing and labeling of materials that produce hazardous waste. Also, with a rise in unique infectious diseases such as Ebola in healthcare, many hospitals are confused about proper disposal, especially as many trash haulers will not accept Class A medical waste, and such waste is subject to ever-stricter incineration standards.

In addition, as regulations become stronger, and hospitals not in compliance can be fined by the day, the disposal of hazardous wastes in a hospital become much more confusing and crucial to follow. We’d like to do a book that helps you wade through the regulations, explains the different kinds of waste generated, and give you tips on how you can reduce waste in your hospital and save money.

There is not much out there, and most of what is written dates to the 1990s, which indicates most recent information hospitals have to go on is 20 years old. Most hospitals are governed under the RCRA Act 1976 for waste disposal, and are governed by the amount per month of waste generated. It behooves hospitals to cut the amount of medical waste generated to cut costs.

In our 2015 Safety Customer Survey, 63% said they were interested in a book about waste reduction, specifically about decreasing needs for red bags, EPA generator requirements, reducing hazardous waste, and less hazardous alternatives for commonly-used products.

I’d like to know your thoughts on this book – what you’d like to see in it, what the need for the book is, and what tools, checklists and information you’d like to read about.

Please shoot me an email with your thoughts as soon as possible at Your input will help shape the content of the book!

Thank you!

John Palmer

Want to be an author for HCPro?

By: January 13th, 2016 Email This Post Print This Post

Hi folks –

As you know, from time to time, I ask you for your input on books that the safety market at HCPro will be working on. After all, we are trying to help you do your jobs better and you’re the people who know best what you need.

Below is a list of the book subjects that we have in development for this year. This is in direct response to the feedback we have gotten from customer surveys, market research and trends, as well as a good look at the books we’ve done in the past and felt that needed a re-write.

What we don’t have are authors, and that’s where I need your help. To get these books written, I need to get the ball rolling talking to subject experts who know a things or two about the topics below.

If you are interested in writing a book for us, or know someone who is qualified, please drop me a line at You don’t have to be an experienced author, and this is a great opportunity to get your name out there on a book cover – and you will be compensated.


Drug Diversion Prevention – Preventing theft of controlled substances at hospitals has always been of paramount importance, but it is still a big problem, as evidenced by the Sept. 28 Justice Department settlement, requiring Massachusetts General Hospital to pay $2.3 million to resolve allegations that lax controls enabled MGH employees to divert controlled substances such as oxycodone for personal use. The book could discuss components of a good prevention plan including things like the establishment of an internal drug diversion team; the creation of a full-time drug diversion compliance officer position; mandatory training of all staff with access to controlled substances, how to identify the signs and symptoms of substance abuse; enhanced diversion monitoring by supervisors and management; annual external audits; and increased physical controls of controlled substances, including limiting and monitoring access to automated dispensing machines through fingerprint identification and other security measures.


PPE Handbook for Pandemics – A comprehensive primer of the proper PPE for any infectious diseases/substances healthcare workers are likely to encounter, especially given Ebola, MERS, and other highly infectious diseases that are showing up at hospitals. We could cover respirators, full body suits including donning and doffing techniques, spotters, PAPR respirators and N95 respirators as well as when each would be required.


Hazardous Waste Disposal and Management – As the EPA regulations become stronger (Proposed new generator rule could pass any day), hospitals not in compliance can be fined by the day, the disposal of hazardous wastes in a hospital become much more confusing and crucial to follow. We’d like to do a book that helps you wade through the regulations, explains the different kinds of waste generated, and give you tips on how you can reduce waste in your facility.


Proper cleansing/disinfection of GI duodenoscopes – A book about the origins of the problem, what the risks are, how to overhaul your facility’s reprocessing program, as well as the fines and lawsuits that can follow the outbreak of a major infection at hospitals. This book could contain checklists and lots of important information about how to design an effective scope reprocessing team and procedures, as well as how to train your staff who may be responsible for cleaning them.

I look forward to hearing from you!

John Palmer

Safety Success Down Any Path

By: January 7th, 2016 Email This Post Print This Post

The following is a guest blog by Dan Scungio, MT (ASCP), SLS, a Laboratory Safety Officer for Sentara Healthcare, a multi-hospital system in the Tidewater region of Virginia.

For eight years, while performing lab safety audits, I have cited a couple of labs for having keyboards raised. The little legs on the rear of the computer keyboard were up and there was no wrist rest in place. Ergonomically, this is an unsound practice, and it is one item on my safety audit checklist. Needless to say, managers do not view this as a big lab safety issue- not when faced with things like PPE issues, out of date safety checks and various more immediate problems. However, a raised keyboard can create problems for those who perform at the computer often. These problems may not show up until later in life, but the stresses on the wrist of a hand working constantly at an angle (rather than in a straight line as is best) can be serious for that employee.

Last month, while conducting a safety audit, the manager asked me how her lab was doing so far. I reviewed with her the items I had cited, and one was that pesky keyboard issue. I stepped out of the department, and when I returned, I found a pile of keyboard legs on my laptop with a note: “Now you can never cite for this again!”

You may not consider this a major safety victory, but it did illustrate a couple of points I have been teaching safety professionals for years.

1: The secret of a successful lab safety professional is that he or she never goes away- they never quit on an issue.

2: If there is only one person promoting safety in the lab, then that is enough to make a difference.

Point 1 is easier to see in this illustration. When I first began performing these safety audits in the labs, I was citing many areas for that particular ergonomics issue (among others). Some of the lab managers I work with strongly support safety, and others do not, but most were in agreement- this was not a big deal and they were not going to worry about it. I persisted. I cited it every year. I did not give up. I did not go away.

This year, when the manager removed the keyboard “feet,” the story spread, and two other managers did the same. It was a minor safety victory- but it was a victory nonetheless.

Point 2 is a bit more obscure, but it is very important. I have worked with some lab safety professionals whose manager does not support safety in the department. They are trying to make a difference in their safety culture and they feel alone and useless. I strongly believe that the lab safety program will have faster success with management and medical director support, more members on the safety team is definitely of benefit. However, I also believe that one person alone can make a difference in the lab’s safety culture.

For the keyboard story, I was the only one who seemed to care about that one safety issue. I made no headway on it for eight years. Success came (albeit slowly) even though I was the only person talking about it. You might be the only person talking about safety on your lab, and you might be repeating yourself often. You might not see it yet, but you are making a difference.

As a lab safety professional, you may come to a fork in the road on your way to safety improvement. The path to the left could be a road of persistence- you may be fighting the same battle over and over again. To the right is the lonely road where only you seem to be supporting the lab safety initiatives. You might even take the middle road where both challenges occur.

No matter the path you may be forced to take in your work place, the same tactics will assist you in navigating to safety success. Be patient, be persistent, and keep talking about safety.

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