Are you ready for National Nurses Week?

By: April 17th, 2014 Email This Post Print This Post

It is almost time to begin the celebrations for National Nurses Week, whose theme this year is “Nurses: Leading the Way.”

Each day during National Nurses Week, HCPro will be celebrating by offering exciting giveaways and special promotions. Keep an eye on your email for a chance to register to win!

Many managers and healthcare organizations enjoy rewarding nurses at this special time with a gift that treats, celebrates, or encourages their nursing staff. This year, consider the gift of professional development with a book from HCPro. Thank your staff with one of these nursing resources.

Provide professional support for nurses on the go

Quick-E Pro: Time Management: A Guide For Nurses

Debbie Buchwach, BSN, RN-BC

Give your staff the gift of less stress for National Nurses Week with these handy guides that are filled with real-world advice and designed to help nurses better manage their time, avoid burnout, and improve their work-life balance. Provide the coaching they need to develop and succeed with Quick-E! Pro Time Management: A Guide for Nurses. Click here for more information.

You might also be interested in:
Quick-E! Pro Scripting: A Guide for Nurses, which helps nurses communicate clearly and confidently with patients, physicians, and peers.

Quick-E! Pro: Evidence-Based Practice: A Guide for Nurses, which walks nurses through how to find evidence and critique literature and therefore make evidence-based practice a top priority for themselves and your organization.

 

CMS rule could hit the little guys where it hurts

By: April 15th, 2014 Email This Post Print This Post

I am a huge proponent of making improvements to any emergency plan, but when regulatory agencies such as CMS start proposing rules that might be impossible for the little guys to implement – I have to feel for them.

Under the new rule, proposed in December and just finishing with the public comment phase, CMS would require hospitals – and ASCs and smaller, hospital-based medical clinics that receive Medicare funding – to prove they can stay open and operational during major catastrophes such as hurricanes, earthquakes and the like. The intent – and a good one – is to avoid mass disruption of medical services on a mass scale such as that experienced during disasters such as Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, and in New York City during Hurricane Sandy. And of course, compliance would be tied to reimbursement.

The problem is that, as it stands, it will be costly – the new rule would affect 68,000 hospitals and healthcare institutions nationwide and cost $225 million, most of that cost due to upgrades needed on HVAC systems, backup power redundancies, transportation and other life safety necessities that would be called upon to keep a hospital operating as unthinkable tragedy unfolded around it.

Hospitals will likely be the ones who bear the brunt of the cost of the upgrades, but where it will hit the little guys is a proposed requirement that would require all facilities to participate in a mock disaster drill in the community once a year, as well as conduct a facility tabletop exercise to show disaster readiness. If you’re a tiny ASC or medical clinic, that might be hard to do. In a tiny community, resources will be tied up in a crisis.

“Our resources would be closed because all our physicians would be at the hospital taking care of patients,” says Bruce Cunha, RN, MS, COHNS, manager of employee health safety, Marshfield Clinic, Marshfield, WI. Cunha is a safety officer for several ASCs in Wisconsin affiliated with St. Joseph’s Hospital, and as facility’s federally qualified to receive Medicare funds from CMS, he is very concerned about how a new rule would affect his clinics.“Some of the communities they are in don’t have drills very year, and some of them are five-person clinics,” he says. “I don’t know many communities that are going to look at a five-person clinic as part of their emergency plans.”

I’d urge all you little guys out there to watch what CMS does very closely, and I’d also like to know how this issue might affect your facility – good or bad. Always feel free to send me your thoughts at jpalmer@hcpro.com.

Tactics to get employees to take OSHA seriously

By: April 7th, 2014 Email This Post Print This Post

One of the recurring complaints I get from folks in the clinic safety field is that it can be difficult to get employees to take OSHA seriously, especially when there are a lot of “old-timers” and newcomers in the industry who may have never experienced the wrath of an OSHA inspection. It’s such a problem that that we’ve devoted an entire story on the subject in the May issue of Medical Environment Update, and decided to give you some tips on how to get your employees to take safety seriously. I’d like to share with you some of the tips our experts came up with for you to use in your own facility:

 Make compliance fun – Most safety lapses are a function of a busy day combined with a lack of education: Jerry the maintenance guy, for example, probably meant to come back and remove the supply cart that he left in front of the exit door, but he got preoccupied to do something else and forgot. So it’s time to make compliance fun, and if you already hold staff trainings on a regular basis, you probably already do. Have a safety scavenger hunt, or start a new campaign that gets everyone involved.

Money talks – There is little that will get people to listen than talking about money. The reality is that a violation from OSHA translates to hefty fines that can hit you hard in the wallet – $7,000 to start, which can then quadruple if the violation is found again. That may seem trivial for bigger clinic system and hospitals, but when it comes time for raises, bonuses, and new equipment, you can’t have it when you are paying big fines. Plus, you could potentially be shut down for it.

Be Present – For some safety officials who work in large groups of medical clinics, it can be difficult to keep track of what everyone is doing. Being in the field and making an occasional appearance is the best way to make sure employees know that the boss is watching.

Keep good records – There will always be that employee that will tell you they didn’t know they were supposed to follow a certain rule, or wear certain protective gear, or that they didn’t receive certain training. If they ever call you out during a disciplinary action, it will be up to you to produce proof that they are wrong. That’s why it’s important to keep your training records up to date. It’s also what you will show an inspector to let them know that you are in compliance with OSHA regulations.

Don’t always be the nice guy – There comes a point where you have to step up to your employees and let them know that without compliance, there will be consequences, up to and including termination. A good example is the perennial debate around mandatory flu shots. Many hospitals and medical clinics have made it a requirement of employment that workers get vaccinated for patient safety. Bottom line: no compliance, no job.

Chemical hazards are everywhere – take stock!

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

I’ve been trying to write more fun “Top Ten”-type stories for my readers of Medical Environment Update: tip-filled guide sheets and checklists that are constructed from snippets of experiences my experts have and can pass down to younger generations. One of the most eye-opening (and frightening) to me has been my upcoming story “Top Chemicals in your Clinic You Don’t Know are Hazardous” that will appear in the May issue.

Among some of the hazardous chemicals found in medical clinics includes hand sanitizer, which is a double-edged sword. It helps control the spread of infection but contains alcohol that can catch fire – a girl in an Oregon hospital almost burned to death last year in a freak accident that involved hand sanitizer, olive oil, and static electricity when she tried to playfully shock her dad at her bedside.

Also included in my list includes formaldehyde, used to preserve tissue samples – not surprising that it can cause cancer, but didn’t my high school science teacher think it was OK to soak dead frogs in it and then allow teenagers to dissect them?

Some clinics still have old stocks of ether, a compound that used to be used as an anesthetic and if left to harden and crystallize, can be as deadly explosive as dynamite. Less sinister things such as Windex, bleach, and other cleaning supplies that you and I use every day are also on the list of things considered hazardous.

I’m sure it comes as no surprise that you work around potentially hazardous chemicals. But when is the last time you took a look around and took stock of what chemicals you have and where they are stored? My guess – and the bet of many experts who do mock OSHA surveys for a living – is that there are all sorts of chemicals lurking around your facility, some stored in cabinets above eye level, perhaps with loose caps that will cause a spill into someone’s eyes by accident.

And while we are on the subject of accidents – do you know where the updated SDS sheets are for those chemicals? If you have an accident, you can bet OSHA will ask you where they are when they inspect your clinic and make sure you are up to date on your hazard communication standards.

It’s springtime – the perfect time to do some spring cleaning and take inventory of your chemicals.

 

Safety tips to warm the soul (Soon, I hope!)

By: March 25th, 2014 Email This Post Print This Post

As we in Boston, and a good portion of the U.S. for that matter, endure another deep freeze, and get ready for another monster snowstorm, thoughts of warm weather are keeping most of us hanging on. It doesn’t help me that I just got back from a weekend in Tampa, Fla. to see my mother – where temperatures are hovering around 75. Stepping off the airplane to 20 degrees was not a very nice welcome home present.

Still, we’ve passed the meteorological first day of spring, and that means warm weather for the rest of us is right around the corner. It’s not too late to start thinking about what you can do now to prepare your facility for warmer weather. In fact, I’ve been talking to safety experts for our upcoming springtime newsletter stories and they’ve given me a few tips to help your facility keep safe as the weather warms up.

Flooding – By now, we’re hoping that snow is a distant memory. But most of the country received a record amount of snowfall this year, and last year many places weren’t clear of snow piles until June. In addition, spring is generally a time when many places can expect a lot of rain. For that reason, the danger of flooding, especially in low- lying areas and how to mitigate that danger is something hospitals should be thinking about. Make sure to take a look at the outside of your facility, and assess the damage that could occur from your surroundings. This is the time to make sure your storm drains are clear of any debris, and also the gutters on the roof of your facility.

Black Ice – Again, while we’re all in the spring and summer frame of mind, it’s important to remember that some areas of the country will still get cold at night. Because of this, any puddles from those spring showers or meltwater from those leftover snow piles will freeze at night and become an icy slipping hazard, especially on outdoor walkways and parking lots. It’s not time to put the sand and salt away just yet. Make sure your facilities crew are monitoring the temperatures, patrolling the outside areas, and putting down ice melt where needed.

Trim your shrubs – Warmer temperatures are always a welcome sign of spring and summer, and thriving shrubs and flowers are something we all look forward – especially intruders that take advantage of shrubbery to hide. While hospitals and clinics don’t generally worry about burglars hiding in the shadows waiting to sneak inside, overgrown shrubs can pose a security hazard when they block the view of perimeter cameras. And all it takes is one good windstorm to knock down dead tree limbs and branches – right onto people, cars, and power lines.

Increase outdoor patrols – Warm weather invites everyone outdoors, and that means more people lingering around outside. As a direct correlation, property crimes increase as well as assaults and other personal crimes. It’s time to make your security force more of a presence as well. Warmer weather also brings with it an increase in vehicle break-ins in parking lots, so it’s a good time to remind staff members and patients to be vigilant and lock their vehicles, especially at night.

Hang in there! We’ll get there for sure.

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