Joint Commission updates emergency management requirements

The Joint Commission updated its emergency management requirements in response to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' final rule on emergency preparedness. The new requirements are effective Nov. 15.

The Joint Commission states that the updated standards will help health care organizations more effectively plan for disasters and coordinate with federal, state, tribal, regional and local emergency preparedness systems. The standards apply to deemed status surveys for hospital, critical access hospital, ambulatory, home health and hospice settings. Enhanced requirements also will apply to rural health clinics and federally qualified health centers to support the consistency of implementation across ambulatory settings. 

The elements of performance (EPs) address key areas in planning and response, including:

  • Continuity of operations and succession plans 
  • Documentation of collaboration with emergency management officials 
  • Contact information on volunteers and tribal groups  
  • Annual training of all new/existing staff, contractors and volunteers 
  • Integrated health care systems 

The updated standards reflect new EPs as well as existing EPs revised for additional specificity. They provide for 21 new or revised EPs for hospitals and critical access hospitals, 29 for ambulatory surgery centers and 39 for home health agencies. 

AAP issues infection-prevention advice for pediatric outpatient settings

The American Academy of Pediatrics has updated its 2007 statement “Infection Prevention and Control in Pediatric Ambulatory Settings” to reflect changes and new insights learned in health care over the past decade.

The document includes a number of clinical recommendations to limit the transmission of infectious disease, such as immunizations among staff and use of personal protective equipment. It also includes several environmental precautions that can be taken, such as:

  • Designing waiting areas in a way that helps to eliminate overcrowding, shorten wait times and minimize the sharing of toys.
  • Providing tissues and hand-hygiene products in plain sight to encourage good hygiene practices.
  • Sterilizing equipment to destroy all forms of microbial life, including spores.
  • Cleaning all areas in ambulatory facilities on a regular basis and keeping them visibly clean. 
  • Adhering to air-exchange requirements.
  • Properly disposing medical wastes, including dressings, needles, sharps and bodily fluid samples.

The AAP also states: “Written policies and procedures concerning IPC should be developed, incorporated into the ambulatory practice safety program, available at all times to office staff, and reviewed at least every two years.”

Joint Commission provides recommendations on environmental safeguard to prevent suicide

The Joint Commission issued guidance to help hospitals and surveyors determine what constitutes adequate environmental safeguards to protect patients with suicidal ideation.

The Joint Commission brought together an expert panel including representatives from provider organizations and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to develop guidance that addresses only the most debated and contentious issues related to environmental hazards in inpatient psychiatric units, general medical-surgical inpatient settings and emergency departments.

AAMI updates steam sterilization standard for health care facilities

The Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation has released the third edition of its widely used steam sterilization standard for health care facilities. The standard, ANSI/AAMI ST79, Comprehensive Guide to Steam Sterilization and Sterility Assurance in Health Care Facilities, was last updated in 2010.

ST79 provides comprehensive guidance to health care personnel who use steam for sterilization, regardless of the size of the sterilizer or the type of facility. This includes hospitals, ambulatory surgery facilities, physicians’ offices, cardiac catheterization laboratories, endoscopy suites, radiology departments and dental offices.