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Think beyond the patient’ when SARS is suspected
Hospital workers should "think beyond the patient" and consider whether anyone accompanying a severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) patient to the emergency department (ED) also could infect people at the hospital, an expert from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has advised.
As health care officials prepared for a possible re-emergence of SARS, a CDC epidemiologist reviewing lessons learned from the 2003 SARS outbreak gave that advice in a recent audio conference.
The epidemiologist cited a case in Toronto in which a patient brought into the ED with symptoms of SARS was accompanied by his wife, who ended up infecting others in the waiting room because she was not given a mask or put under surveillance. In addition, the epidemiologist said, nurses and other hospital employees should be versed in how to correctly use masks and other forms of personal protective equipment.
Several hospitals listening in on the audio conference, sponsored by the Health Research and Educational Trust, said they had established hotlines for potential SARS patients and were implementing respiratory etiquette strategies to prepare for a potential recurrence. Additional SARS preparedness recommendations can be found in a CDC draft guidance document at www.cdc.gov.
JCAHO quality reports available on Internet
Performance information for Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations-accredited health care organizations is expected to be publicly available on the Internet, beginning July 2004, its board of commissioners confirmed at a recent meeting. These quality reports will include information on an organization’s accreditation status, accredited services, and compliance with the Joint Commission’s Patient Safety Goals and Quality Improvement Goals. The organization also clarified its second National Patient Safety Goal, which requires hospitals to use standard abbreviations, acronyms, and symbols to improve the effectiveness of communication among caregivers.
Grievance vs. complaint clarified in SHCA guide
Access managers and other hospital personnel can get help in separating patient grievances from complaints in a guide offered by the Society for Healthcare Consumer Advocacy (SHCA). A document identifying the differences between a complaint and a grievance is available on-line at the SHCA web site, www.shca-aha.org. The guide was created to help members of the American Hospital Association affiliate group distinguish between a complaint and a grievance, based on the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services patient grievance regulations. Examples of the differences include: "An issue is not a grievance if it can be handled on the spot by staff present," and "Billing issues are not considered grievances unless the patient is disputing charges due to poor care or service."