AHRQ releases safety risk-assessment toolkit for health care designers

A new toolkit funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality helps to support health care facility designs that are safe for patients and staff. The Safety Risk Assessment Toolkit for facility designers was developed by the Center for Health Design and targets six areas of safety: infections, falls, medication errors, security, injuries of behavioral health and patient handling.

The toolkit also addresses more than 200 potential environmental considerations in building design and functions as a quality-check tool that teams can align around. It includes evidence-based design, a proactive process to mitigate risk, and discussion prompts to foster collaboration among multidisciplinary teams.

Joint Commission updates emergency management standards to align with CMS requirements

The Joint Commission has updated its emergency management standards to align with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) emergency preparedness rule issued last year. The new Elements of Performance were sent to CMS in June for review and approval. The Joint Commission stated that CMS is expected to approve the updated standards soon, and that they are scheduled to be used during surveys starting Nov. 15.

New Elements of Performance have been created that address the following areas:

  • Continuity of operations and succession plans
  • Documentation of collaboration with local, tribal, regional, state and federal emergency managment officials
  • Contact information on volunteers and tribal groups
  • Annual training of all new or existing staff, contractors and volunteers
  • Integrated health care systems
  • Transplant hospitals

FDA clears first duodenoscope with disposable distal cap

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Wednesday cleared the Pentax ED34-i10T high-definition duodenoscope, making it the first duodenoscope with a disposable distal cap. The new feature is designed to improve access for cleaning and reprocessing following surgical procedures.

“We believe the new disposable distal cap represents a major step toward lowering the risk of future infections associated with these devices,” said William Maisel, M.D., M.P.H., acting director of the Office of Device Evaluation in the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health. “Improving the safety of duodenoscopes is a top priority for the FDA, and we encourage companies to continue to pursue innovations that will help reduce the risk to patients.”

In January 2017, the FDA issued a Safety Communication alerting health care providers about a design issue with an earlier version of the Pentax duodenoscope, the ED-3490TK. The communication identified the potential for cracks and gaps to develop in the adhesive that seals the duodenoscope’s distal cap onto the scope. These cracks and gaps could allow fluids and tissue to leak into the duodenoscope.

The new features of the Pentax ED34-i10T include a single-use detachable and disposable distal cap, simpler user interface, improved ergonomics, improved image quality, and a shorter length.

CDC increases health care emergency resources to support hurricane recovery efforts

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been deploying emergency resources to areas affected by recent hurricanes since Aug. 25, and recently increased its efforts to assist in health care needs.

So far, the CDC has deployed pharmacy supplies and six 250-bed medical stations. Four are located in Texas (Dallas and Houston), and two are located in Baton Rouge, La. The two Houston stations are in operation, while the other four are on-site and will be deployed if needed. The CDC’s Emergency Operations Center also is monitoring and coordinating efforts to respond to public health threats, including drowning and floodwater safety, carbon monoxide poisoning, downed power lines, unsafe food and water, mold and other health risks.