CMS finalizes emergency preparedness rule 

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has issued new emergency preparedness requirements for health care facilities that will take effect in 60 days.

CMS reports that the new requirements are in response to natural disasters that have occurred over the past few years, and the responsibility hospitals have to keep patients safe during such events. It requires Medicare and Medicaid participating providers and suppliers to meet the following four common and well-known industry best-practice standards.

  • Emergency plan. Based on a risk assessment, develop an emergency plan using an all-hazards approach focusing on capacities and capabilities that are critical to preparedness for a full spectrum of emergencies or disasters specific to the location of a provider or supplier.
  • Policies and procedures. Develop and implement policies and procedures based on the plan and risk assessment.
  • Communication plan. Develop and maintain a communication plan that complies with both federal and state laws. Patient care must be well-coordinated within the facility, across health care providers and with state and local public health departments and emergency systems.
  • Training and testing program. Develop and maintain training and testing programs, including initial and annual trainings, and conduct drills and exercises or participate in an actual incident that tests the plan.

The rule applies to 17 different provider types, including hospitals, critical access hospitals, ambulatory surgical centers, long-term care facilities, intermediate care facilities and rural health clinics.

"As people with medical needs are cared for in increasingly diverse settings, disaster preparedness is not only a responsibility of hospitals, but of many other providers and suppliers of health care services. Whether it’s trauma care or long-term nursing care or a home-health service, patients’ needs for health care don’t stop when disasters strike; in fact their needs often increase in the immediate aftermath of a disaster," says Nicole Lurie, M.D., Department of Health & Human Services assistant secretary for preparedness and response. "All parts of the health care system must be able to keep providing care through a disaster, both to save lives and to ensure that people can continue to function in their usual setting. Disasters tend to stress the entire health care system, and that’s not good for anyone."

FDA issues final rule on safety and effectiveness of antibacterial soaps

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a final rule establishing that over-the-counter consumer antiseptic-wash products containing certain active ingredients can no longer be marketed. Companies will no longer be able to market antibacterial washes with these ingredients because manufacturers did not demonstrate that the ingredients are both safe for long-term daily use and more effective than plain soap and water in preventing illness and the spread of certain infections. Some manufacturers already have started removing these ingredients from their products.

This final rule applies to consumer antiseptic-wash products containing one or more of 19 specific active ingredients, including the most commonly used ingredients — triclosan and triclocarban. This rule does not affect consumer hand sanitizers or wipes, or antibacterial products used in health care settings.

“Consumers may think antibacterial washes are more effective at preventing the spread of germs, but we have no scientific evidence that they are any better than plain soap and water,” says Janet Woodcock, M.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “In fact, some data suggest that antibacterial ingredients may do more harm than good over the long-term.”

ASPR updates hurricane preparedness resources for health care facilities

The Department of Health & Human Services Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response has added resources to its hurricane preparedness list. New resources for health care organizations include how to retain and care for staff after a disaster, handling pharmacy and prescription needs post-storm and dealing with mold in facilities following a flood.

FDA warns of potential issues with programmable syringe pumps

The Food and Drug Administration warned that programmable syringe pumps used to deliver highly concentrated medications, nutritional liquids, and blood or blood products to infants and critically ill patients may deliver these therapies at inconsistent rates. This flaw potentially could cause serious adverse events such as hemodynamic instability, loss of sedation and increased pain indicators in critically ill neonates.

The agency says that over the last three years it has received more than 300 medical device reports associated with the use of programmable syringe pumps, most of which were operating at a rate of less than 5 milliliters per hour, “and especially flow rates less than 0.5 milliliters per hour.”

CDC awards $2.4 million to five jurisdictions to fight Zika

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has awarded $2.4 million to Chicago, Houston, New York City, Philadelphia and Los Angeles County to establish, enhance and maintain information-gathering systems to rapidly detect microcephaly, a serious birth defect of the brain linked to Zika virus infection.

This funding is in addition to the $16.4 million recently awarded to states and territories for surveillance of microcephaly and other adverse outcomes, and will enable these local areas to participate in these important activities in coordination with state efforts.

The funds will allow these local areas to:

  • Enhance information-gathering to carry out strategies for real-time, population-based monitoring for microcephaly and other birth defects caused by Zika virus
  • Enhance capacity development through partner collaboration and infrastructure improvements
  • Provide referral of infants and families to health and social resources
  • Participate in CDC data reporting
  • Expand access to examination of health and monitoring of developmental outcomes of children born to women with positive or inconclusive Zika virus test results

AHE celebrates National Healthcare Environmental Services Week

The Association for the Healthcare Environment (AHE) is celebrating National Healthcare Environmental Services Week Sept. 12–16 with a lunch sweepstakes and daily webinars.

AHE members can enter for a chance to win lunch for their respective organization's environmental services (ES) department and webinars to help ES professionals further their careers. It is also offering merchandise, and sales from the purchases will help to provide complimentary education, discounted member pricing on services and discount conference pricing.