Quality & Patient Safety

Quality & Patient Safety Headlines

  • Sharp HealthCare: Before the plane crash

    In January 2009, all eyes were on the Hudson River when a plane flying out of New York’s LaGuardia Airport crash-landed in the river after striking a flock of geese. Thanks to fast acting by the pilots, all 155 passengers survived, with few major injuries. Trouble started afterwards, though, because of a communication breakdown between airlines and hospitals.

    After the crash, victims were sent to multiple hospitals in New York and New Jersey. At the request of family and loved ones, US Airways called the hospitals to figure out where each passenger had been sent. However, fear and misunderstanding of HIPAA laws prevented the facilities from revealing that information, causing more distress for people wanting to find their loved ones and see if they were all right.

    The disaster spurred officials at San Diego International Airport (SAN) and local hospitals to join forces to create an emergency preparedness partnership. A year after the crash, SAN and San Diego hospitals were holding regular meetings together, providing training, and developing contact sheets of whom to call should a crisis occur.

  • Remembering Winter Storm Jonas

    Consult your emergency management plan when facing an impending storm, and update this plan with lessons learned after each storm to avoid grappling with problems that may already have solutions. This is just one of the lessons reinforced for hospitals that were impacted by Winter Storm Jonas (aka “Snowzilla”) back in January 2016.

    It’s been a few years since Jonas smothered the East Coast, so here are a few facts to refresh your memory:

    • 14 states received over a foot of snow. Seven of them saw over 30 inches of snowfall, including places like New York’s JFK airport and Allentown, Pennsylvania.
    • West Virginia received 42 inches of snow.
    • At the time, Jonas was the biggest single snowstorm on record for at least six locations.
    • 11 states declared a state of emergency, and 13,000 flights were canceled.
    • More than 80 million people were affected by Jonas, with at least 55 deaths attributed to it.


     

  • SHEA issues infection control guidance for anesthesiology

    In December, the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA) issued new guidance for preventing infections associated with anesthesiology procedures and equipment in the operating room (OR). Published in SHEA’s journal Infection Control & Healthcare Epidemiology, the guidance provides steps for improving infection prevention using increased hand hygiene, environmental disinfection, and continuous improvement plans.

    “Even though the demands on anesthesia providers make infection prevention best practices more challenging, there are opportunities for improvement,” said Silvia Munoz-Price, MD, PhD, lead author of the guidance and professor of medicine at Froedtert & Medical College of Wisconsin, in a release. “We describe how the anesthesiology team and hospital leaders can optimize infection prevention in operating room anesthesia, and we give suggestions for the future, including the need for better equipment design.”

  • Incoming EPA rule will change the game on hazardous waste pharmaceuticals

    Tell your nurses that soon that packaging for a patient’s nicotine patch, gum, or lozenge might go straight into the regular trash — as long as it is FDA-approved as an over-the-counter nicotine replacement therapy.

    And your state must sign off on the exemption of the packaging as hazardous waste under the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). That’s just one of the benefits you can expect in handling hazardous waste pharmaceuticals at your facility now that the Environmental Protection Agency has finalized its long-awaited “Management Standards for Hazardous Waste Pharmaceuticals and Amendment to the P075 Listing for Nicotine.”

    However, get the word out to everyone in your organization who handles hazardous waste pharmaceuticals that, in the near future, flushing or rinsing those drugs down a drain into the sewers will be specifically prohibited.

  • Suicides and drugs cut U.S. life expectancy

    It’s not news to most providers that suicide and drug abuse are on the rise. However, a trio of reports from the CDC have shed light on the extent of the problem.

    In 2017, American life expectancy dropped for the third year in a row, with the main culprits of the decline being drug overdoses and suicides. There was a grand total of 2.8 million deaths that year—69,000 more than in 2016 and breaking the U.S. record for most deaths in one year. Of those deaths, 70,237 were drug overdoses and 47,000 were suicides.

    The research shows that a baby born in 2017 had 1.2 months shaved off its life expectancy compared to one born the year before (78.6 years from 78.7).

  • Wildfire and smoke: Sharp HealthCare's fire plans

    Last November, the innocently named Camp Fire killed over 80 people in California, making it the deadliest wildfire in the state’s history. The fire destroyed 10,500 homes, filled the air with smoke for miles around, and burned an area the size of Chicago. The fire was just one of 6,228 that took place in California last year.

    Nationwide, wildfires burned 8.5 million acres of land in 2018. For scale, that’s as if all of Maryland, Delaware, and Rhode Island burned down with an extra 300,000 acres left over to burn down a few cities of your choice.

    While the destruction last year was high, it wasn’t abnormal. As climate change raises temperatures and brings more droughts and dry weather, experts say wildfires will become even more frequent and dangerous. This growing danger will require even more vigilance on the part of providers and hospitals, particularly in high-risk states like California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming.