Review sharps safety with your staff!

By: November 19th, 2014 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.

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, and staff education on the topic should be regular. Make sure lab staff gets the point…of sharps safety!

Keep up on the latest Ebola information

By: November 3rd, 2014 Email This Post Print This Post

By now, I’m sure you all have had just about your fill of news coverage about Ebola. And there’s a good chance your facility has upgraded or even changed its intake, security, and infection control protocols to comply with the newest CDC protocol recommendations.

Make no mistake, however. The threat of an outbreak is still out there, as the disease has not been controlled in Africa, and even though the patient count here in the United States has stabilized and the media frenzy has died down a bit, now is not the time to be complacent.

All it takes is one positive case to walk through your doors to change the game, and now is the time to take the lessons learned in Texas and other healthcare facilities to strengthen your own preparations for an Ebola case.

Are your sure that your staff are properly trained to quickly put the proper PPE on, and work in a stressful environment if an Ebola patient walks in to your facility? How will you disinfect your patient rooms properly so that there is no chance of spreading the infection?

From a public relation standpoint, how will you deal with a confused public, or patients who may need to be quarantined? As we saw in Maine recently with the case of a nurse who challenged the government’s attempts at a forced quarantine, there are many unanswered questions that remain about Ebola and the proper response and preparation of healthcare facilities.

We here at HCPro are committed to making sure you get the most up-to-date information, and I invite you to participate in a very special 60-minute webinar that will cover all the latest information, and answer any questions you my still have aboutpreapring for an Ebola outbreak.

The show, Ebola: How to Prepare Your Facility, will take place on Monday, November 17 from 1-2 p.m. Our featured speakers will include Marge McFarlane, an infection control expert for more than 30 years, and healthcare security expert Tom Smith, who was in charge of maintaining hospital security for facilities in North Carolina during the SARS outbreak in 2002.

By the end of the show, you’ll learn how to maintain ongoing communication regarding the situation both inside and outside the doors of your facility, povide your staff and security team with the tools they will need to maintain order and properly intake and triage patients in the event of a major outbreak of Ebola or similar disease, have an understanding of the PPE and isolation needs necessary to protect others from contracting Ebola, and identify how to properly manage, dispose of, and transport hazardous medical waste that will be generated during an Ebola outbreak.

More importantly, the show is being designed around YOU. We will be sure to allow plenty of time for questions you may have as the situation changes from day to day. For more information or to register, click here to visit the HCPro Marketplace.

 

Upcoming HCPro webcast helps prepare your facility for Ebola

By: October 28th, 2014 Email This Post Print This Post


Join us for Ebola: How to Prepare Your Facility, to learn all you need to know about protecting your healthcare facility while providing the highest level of care for your patients. The show will take place on Monday, November 17 from 1-2 p.m.

This program will help hospitals clear up misconceptions surrounding the latest Ebola outbreak and help facilities develop a response plan in the event they receive a patient with Ebola or similar disease.

During this 60-minute webcast, infection control expert Marge McFarlane and healthcare security expert Tom Smith will:

  • Assess the current status of the Ebola outbreak and the preparedness level of healthcare facilities
  • Separate fact from fiction about transmission and patient care
  • Provide tips on infection prevention as well as intake, isolation, and disinfection procedures unique to Ebola
  • Discuss emergency management and facility security control issues that occur during an outbreak
  • Discuss access control and compliance lessons learned from the SARS experience from 2003
  • Provide suggestions to improve staff training, communication, and support for frontline staff (police and security, valet parking, guest services, environmental services, engineering staff, admitting staff, etc.) when dealing with suspected cases

At the end of this webcast, you will be able to:

Confidently and quickly activate a facility response plan to an Ebola patient, knowing your staff has been adequately trained and briefed with the latest information from the CDC and other agencies

  • Maintain ongoing communication regarding the situation both inside and outside the doors of your facility
  • Provide your staff and security team with the tools they will need to maintain order and properly intake and triage patients in the event of a major outbreak of Ebola or similar disease
  • Have an understanding of the PPE and isolation needs necessary to protect others from contracting Ebola
  • Identify how to properly manage, dispose of, and transport hazardous medical waste that will be generated during an Ebola outbreak

For more information or to register, click here to visit the HCPro Marketplace.

Guest column – Train now for proper Ebola PPE

By: October 20th, 2014 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.

Viral Hemorrhagic Fevers (VHF) or Ebola is the hot topic right now in healthcare facilities and in laboratories across the nation. Under normal circumstances, the proper use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) can be confusing to staff. With adjustments that need to be made for handling and processing samples from suspected or confirmed VHF patients, that confusion can mount.

A look at OSHA’s Bloodborne Pathogens and Chemical Hygiene Standards will make clear the requirements for proper PPE selection and use under usual circumstances in the clinical laboratory setting. Fluid-resistant lab coats, gloves and face protection are all part of the everyday PPE required. While the CDC has been very specific about PPE use when involved with direct care of VHF patients, the guidance has been less exact for laboratorians and specimen processing. The point that is often stressed is that Standard Precautions, those precautions that we should always be utilizing in the lab, are sufficient for protection against the Ebola virus.

Much information has been distributed about how lab testing was handled for the two Ebola patients at Emory University, but in those cases, only Point of Care Testing was performed near the patient rooms, and no testing ever made it to the actual laboratories in the facility. Some specific recommendations for handling the highly pathogenic samples include:

–         Utilizing a gown rather than a lab coat to completely cover the front of the employee

–         Double-gloving

–         Full face protection to include goggles and a respirator or a full-face shield

When making decisions about the PPE for your staff, gather information from the CDC, your infection prevention department and other credible resources that you may have. Train your staff how to properly don and doff the PPE, especially if you obtain equipment you do not use under normal circumstances.

I heard someone say that because of Ebola that lab staff really needs to “buckle down and use PPE to keep themselves safe.” That should happen all of the time, not just now. Laboratorians never know what pathogens they may be handling with the specimens they process and test. That’s one reason Standard Precautions was introduced. Keep your lab staff safe now and always by properly using PPE that always offers the protection needed in the laboratory.

How does your facility prepare for Ebola?

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

As you may have all heard, a hospital worker in Dallas is confirmed as the second case of Ebola in the U.S., and a breach in protocol is being blamed for the transmission of the virus.

The CDC can make all the protocol recommendations they want – but unless healthcare workers listen and put on their PPE and follow the proper processes, this will continue to happen.

I’d like to know – what is your facility doing to prepare for possible Ebola cases? Are there any special protocols or training that are being put into place?

I am most concerned about the front-line workers – nurses and receptionists and the like who are going to be the first ones to come in contact with the patients with flu-like symptoms. How do you protect them while not turning your hospital into a scene from the movie “Outbreak”?

As always, feel free to drop me a line at jpalmer@hcpro.com.

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