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
- 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Patient safety and quality improvement efforts often fail to demonstrate improved financial outcomes. On Monday, October 27, HCPro will present “Monetizing Quality: A Model of Safer Care That Reduces Cost” with Maleek Jamal, PhD, and Allan Frankel, MD.
Jamal and Frankel will describe how to build patient safety programs that measure and improve clinical and financial outcomes, justifying ongoing further investment by providers into the activities that promote safe and reliable care.
Visit www.hcmarketplace.com for more information and to register for the program.
Hi folks –
We at HCPro are discussing the possibility of hosting a special webcast about infection control – and focusing quite specifically on the Ebola situation—from a healthcare safety and readiness standpoint.
Also, with the Enterovirus going around as well, we feel there is a lot of misinformation and potential panic in U.S. hospitals and clinics about their readiness. We thought it would be a good time to do a webcast that could talk about how hospitals can prepare for patients, how to properly disinfect rooms, and isolation procedures.
I’d like your input on a couple things:
1) Is there interest in such a program, and what would you like to see in such a program?
2) We are looking for potential speakers/experts who would like to participate in the webcast, and can help us develop an agenda.
Due to the timely nature of the subject, we are looking to do this in mid- to late November, and certainly before Thanksgiving. If you are interested in participating, or can point me in the right direction towards potential sources, I would be much obliged.
Have a great day, and as always feel free to contact me at email@example.com.
If you’ve been watching the news coming out of Safetyland, you know that OSHA last week announced a change in its rules on the reporting of workplace deaths and severe injuries, requiring that employers must report any fatalities within eight hours of the accident or incident beginning January 1.
It’s not much of a surprise, and the new rule has been anticipated for some time. Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health David Michaels explained that work-related hospitalization, amputation, or loss of an eye will now have to be reported within 24 hours under the new rule.
Previously, OSHA regulations required such reports to be filed only if three or more workers were killed or hospitalized while on the job, and reporting single hospitalizations, amputations, or loss of an eye was not required.
I’ll be following up on this story in the newsletters, and I’d like to know how this will affect your facilities. Will you be doing anything different? Are you for it or against it? And will this new rule make the healthcare workplace any safer?