In this week’s Thinking Thursdays TIPs we remind ourselves how important it is to put safety first.
To say everybody is ready for COVID-19 to be over is not an overstatement, even so, the fact remains the virus is here and our lives have been forever impacted by this historic event.
Patient safety, the safety of healthcare workers, and the safety of every person remains a top priority, especially as the country begins to reopen.
Even before COVID-19, implementing and maintaining strong workplace safety procedures was then, and is now, necessary to reduce risk and ensure an environment of safe care. Safeguarding the safety of patients and employees while delivering top-quality care has never been more important for medical practices than it is now during the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the American Medical Association’s guidelines for reopening medical practices, a step-by-step approach is essential and should include the following: (1)
- Ensuring state and federal government compliance
- Creating a plan for opening medical practices
- Instituting new safety measures for patients, clinicians and staff
- Reviewing medical liability, privacy & confidentiality policies related to COVID-19
The AMA article mentioned above provides a resource titled, “COVID-19: A physician practice guide to reopening”, which is worth reviewing, even if your practice has already begun the initial reopening phase.
Most Frequent Hazards
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published the most frequently found hazards that adversely impact patient and healthcare worker safety, which include; Bloodborne Pathogens Standards, Hazard Communications Standards, Ionizing Radiation Standards, Exit Routes Standards and Electrical Standards.
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Guidelines
Below is a summary of the OSHA guidelines and standards that will help to minimize incidents, protect employees and patients, and reduce a practice’s risk: (2)
1. Bloodborne Pathogens – OSHA Requirements
– Implement a written exposure control plan, update annually
– Ensure the use of universal precautions
– Make certain of the appropriate use of needles and sharps
– Safeguard that the proper use of personal protective equipment happens
– Make sure staff receives medical attention following any exposure incident
– Maintain the use of labels for items such as sharps disposal boxes
– Conduct and document staff training
– Maintain the proper containment of all regulated waste
2. Hazard Communication- OSHA Requirements
– Execute a written hazard communication program
– Retain a list of hazardous chemicals used or kept in the office
– Retain a copy of the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS)
– Conduct and document staff training
3. Ionizing Radiation – OSHA Requirements
– Evaluate all types of radiation utilized within the facility
– Limit access to restricted areas to minimize employee exposure
– Ensure employees working in restricted areas wear radiation monitors
– Make sure that rooms and equipment are labeled with caution signs
4. Exit Routes Standards- OSHA Requirements
– Ensure exit routes are sufficient for the number of employees
– Display a diagram of evacuation routes posted in a visible location
5. Electrical Standards
– Hazardous locations – standards apply to electrical equipment AND wiring
– Use of flammable gases may require special wiring
– Local fire departments may offer advice in some communities
– Schedule an OSHA consultation to ensure compliance
Reopen With Care
“Maximum use of all telehealth modalities is strongly encouraged. However, for care that cannot be accomplished virtually, these recommendations — the first in a series of recommendations — may guide healthcare systems and facilities as they consider resuming in-person care of non-COVID-19 patients in regions with low incidence of COVID-19 disease.” (3)
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Jerry L. Stone