The American Hospital Association in mid-November urged Congress to provide a dedicated funding stream to help hospitals prepare and respond to Ebola. "Hospitals and health systems have learned from each emergency situation, and it is crucial that they have the appropriate funding to adopt best practices, incorporate new technology into their emergency readiness plans and have the ability to care for their communities when a pandemic, disaster or terrorist attack occurs," AHA said in a statement submitted to the Senate Appropriations Committee for a hearing on the government's response to fighting Ebola.
The Joint Commission in a recent Joint Commission Online newsletter provided resources on revised equipment maintenance standards for critical access hospitals (CAHs). The revisions, which are effective Jan. 1, align with changes made by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). In August 2014, CMS issued a Survey and Certification letter clarifying when CAHs may implement an alternative equipment maintenance program, which adjusts maintenance, inspection and testing activities for facility and medical equipment from what is recommended by the manufacturer.
Responding to concerns raised by the American Hospital Association and others, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in late October clarified requirements of its recent final regulation for disposal of controlled substances. In a letter to practitioners, DEA stated that the regulation was intended to cover disposal of unwanted controlled substances from a provider's inventory, not small amounts of unwanted controlled substances left over after treatment of a patient. "[O]nce a controlled substance has been dispensed to a patient … the substance is no longer in the practitioner's inventory," DEA stated.
The Joint Commission in the Nov. 5 edition of its Joint Commission Online newsletter listed frequently occurring environment of care (EC) safety hazards for hospitals and critical access hospitals (CAHs) and strategies for eliminating them. The Joint Commission requires hospitals and CAHs to conduct EC tours every six months in patient care areas, and every year in non-patient care areas. However, the Joint Commission stated that these are not the only times that hospital staff should be on the lookout for safety hazards.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has ordered $2.7 million in personal protective equipment for the Strategic National Stockpile to assist U.S. hospitals in caring for patients with Ebola, the agency announced in early November. National Stockpile personnel will assemble the equipment into 50 kits, which can be rapidly delivered to hospitals in need to manage the care of one Ebola patient for up to five days. The purchases include impermeable gowns, coveralls and aprons; boot covers; gloves; face shields and hoods; N95 respirators; powered air-purifying respirator systems and ancillaries; and disinfecting wipes. Hospitals should coordinate requests for the kits with their respective state public health departments, which will follow an established protocol for submitting requests to CDC.