Archive for: November, 2019

Proper sharps management in senior living helps reduce risk for needle stick injuries

By: November 12th, 2019 Email This Post Print This Post

The following article is an excerpt from HCPro’s book Disaster Planning, Infection Control, and OSHA Compliance: A Toolkit for Senior Living, written by Karen T. Stratoti, RN, BSN, LNHA, CALA

In the senior living environment, many of the residents come in with their own ways of handling their needles and syringes. It is not uncommon to find medical waste sharps in empty tin coffee cans, used needles placed in large baggies, and used needles and syringes stored in laundry detergent containers. Many times, residents do not come into the facility with a proper disposal system. Facility administrators must make sure that the residents get the proper container for needle and syringe disposal, and that residents are given an inservice on how to use these containers to avoid staff getting a needle stick injury.

How should sharps containers be handled?

Each sharps container must either be labeled with the universal biohazard symbol and the word biohazard, or be color-coded red. Sharps containers must be maintained upright throughout use, replaced routinely, and not be allowed to overfill. Also, the containers must be:

  • Closed immediately prior to removal or replacement, to prevent spillage or protrusion of contents during handling, storage, transport, or shipping;
  • Placed in a secondary container if leakage is possible.

The second container must be:

  • Closable,
  • Constructed to contain all contents and prevent leakage during handling, storage, transport, or shipping; and
  • Labeled or color-coded according to the standard.

Reusable containers must not be opened, emptied, or cleaned manually or in any other manner that would expose employees to the risk of percutaneous injury.

Upon closure, duct tape may be used to secure the lid of a sharps container, as long as the tape does not serve as the lid itself.

Where should sharps containers be located?

Sharps containers must be easily accessible to employees and located as close as feasible to the immediate area where sharps are used (e.g., resident care areas, resident apartments). If a mobile cart is used in these areas, an alternative would be to lock the sharps container in the cart.

What type of container should be purchased to dispose of sharps?

Sharps containers are made from a variety of products, from cardboard to plastic. As long as they meet the definition of a sharps container (i.e., containers must be closable, puncture resistant, leak proof on sides and bottom, and labeled or color-coded), OSHA would consider them to be of an acceptable composition.

For tools and interactive training activities to improve safety and satisfaction in your facility, click here.

This story originally ran in Post-Acute Advisor, a free, weekly e-newsletter focused on delivering information, education, and guidance on complex topics such as MDS and care planning to help long-term care administrators and managers, reimbursement professionals, and clinical staff members break down confusing regulations into easy-to-understand processes and procedures.

LeapFrog Releases Biannual Hospital Safety Grades

By: November 7th, 2019 Email This Post Print This Post

By John Commins

One third of the 2,600 general, acute care hospitals across the nation rated in The Leapfrog Group’s fall 2019 Hospital Safety Grades got an ‘A,’ grade, while 1% flunked, the patient safety monitors said.

Leapfrog grades are based upon process and structural measures such as hand hygiene, risk mitigation, and discharge communication, as well as outcome measures such as falls, pressure ulcers, and infections.

The safety ratings’ release coincides with the 20th anniversary of the Institute of Medicine’s shocking report, To Err Is Human, which showed that nearly 100,000 people die every year due to preventable medical errors. Other research has shown that number could be twice as high.

“The findings of the IOM report, published two decades ago, laid the foundation of what The Leapfrog Group stands for today,” said Leah Binder, president and CEO of The Leapfrog Group. “In stark contrast to 20 years ago, we’re now able to pinpoint where the problems are, and that allows us to grade hospitals.”

“It also allows us to better track progress. Encouragingly, we are seeing fewer deaths from the preventable errors we monitor in our grading process,” she said.

Among the findings:

  • More than 2,600 hospitals graded with the breakdown as follows: 33% earned an “A,” 25% earned a “B,” 34% earned a “C,” 8% a “D” and just under 1% an “F.”
  • The five states with the highest percentages of “A” hospitals are: Maine (59%), Utah (56%), Virginia (56%), Oregon (48%) and North Carolina (47%).
  • There are no “A” hospitals in three states: Wyoming, Alaska and North Dakota.
  • Notably, 36 hospitals nationwide have achieved an “A” in every grading update since the launch of the Safety Grade in spring 2012.

Earlier this year, Leapfrog commissioned the Johns Hopkins Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality to update its estimate of deaths due to errors, accidents, injuries and infections at “A”, “B”, “C”, “D” and “F” hospitals.

The study estimated that 160,000 lives are lost each year from the avoidable medical errors identified in the Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade, down from 205,000 avoidable deaths in 2016.

The Johns Hopkins analysis found that “D” and “F” hospitals have nearly twice the risk of mortality of “A” hospitals, and that more than 50,000 lives could be saved if all hospitals performed at the level of “A” graded hospitals.

John Commins is a content specialist and online news editor for HealthLeaders, a Simplify Compliance brand.

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