CMS to develop guidance on ligature risks

In a statement sent to accrediting organizations last month, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) said it will develop guidance regarding the definition of what constitutes a ligature risk and other safety risks involved in the care of patients with suicidal ideation. CMS typically requires condition-level deficiencies to be corrected in 60 days. “[W]e have found that while our accredited organizations are committed to correcting ligature and self-harm risks, correcting these issues may require additional time and resources,” the Joint Commission stated. “After much collaboration with CMS, we are pleased that CMS has agreed to develop guidance in the area of ligature risk.” CMS expects to develop the guidance in the next six months. In the interim, the agency affirmed that the Joint Commission and other accrediting organizations may use their judgment in identifying deficiencies; the level of severity for those deficiencies; and the approval of the facility’s corrective plans.

FDA sends notice on thermal regulating systems

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sent a notice to health care providers recommending the use of thermoregulating devices for surgical procedures when clinically warranted. This applies to forced-air thermal regulating systems as well, which use an electrical blower to circulate filtered, temperature-controlled air through a hose into a blanket placed over or under a patient. The FDA states that it became aware that some health care providers may be avoiding the use of forced-air thermal regulating systems due to concerns of potential increased risk of surgical-site infection (SSI). The FDA notes that using forced-air thermal regulating systems to control patient temperature during surgery has demonstrated successful results — less bleeding, faster recovery times and decreased risk of infection for patients. The agency states that those concerned about the risk of SSI should follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use and are encouraged to report adverse events or side effects related to the use of these products.

CMS issues training on emergency preparedness

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has released an online training course for state survey agencies that will evaluate compliance with new emergency-preparedness requirements for hospitals and other providers beginning Nov. 15. The course also is available to providers to give consistent guidance on the survey process. A final rule issued last September requires health care facilities to conduct risk assessments using an all-hazards approach; develop emergency-preparedness plans, policies and procedures, including distinct communication plans; and establish training and testing programs. 

Antimicrobial scrubs susceptible to contamination

Antimicrobial scrubs don’t provide greater protection from bacteria than traditional scrubs, according to a new study published in Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology. The Antimicrobial Scrub Contamination and Transmission Trial, conducted by researchers at Duke University Hospital, followed 40 nurses who wore three different types of scrubs over three consecutive 12-hour shifts. The study’s authors say that it’s likely the scrubs with antimicrobial properties were ineffective at reducing pathogens because of the low-level disinfectant capabilities of the textiles combined with repeated exposure in a short time frame. However, they also note that antimicrobial-impregnated textiles might be more effective when used in bed linens and patient gowns.