Michigan hospitals track bioterror

Nine Michigan hospitals are participating in a statewide surveillance pilot program to track potential bioterrorist attacks, infectious disease outbreaks, and other public health emergencies. The syndromic surveillance system focuses on assembling information as close to real time as possible from the hospitals, which would allow for early detection and intervention.

If the system detects an outbreak or emergency, an automated response will be sent to epidemiologists at the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH), which will analyze the findings and investigate further.

The Michigan Health & Hospital Association is helping to coordinate the effort, which will be expanded later this year to include more hospitals. The system is guided by a steering committee made up of representatives of MDCH, local health departments, regional hospital bioterrorism coordinators, and medical directors, and participating facilities.

The program is funded through a cooperative agreement with the National Bioterrorism Hospital Preparedness Program of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For more information, go to www.hrsa.gov/ bioterrorism/.

Ohio group issues surgical protocol

The Ohio Patient Safety Institute has released a surgical protocol to help Ohio providers prevent the incidence of wrong-site, wrong-patient, and wrong-procedure surgery.

Developed with input from 20 medical and health care organizations, including the Ohio Hospital Association (OHA) and the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO), the protocol outlines three steps for caregivers to follow prior to surgery: patient verification, marking of the surgical site, and a time-out before incision to conduct a final checklist.

The protocol will give Ohio hospitals a head start on implementing JCAHO’s universal protocol for surgical procedures, with which U.S. hospitals must comply by July 1.

The Ohio Patient Safety Institute is a subsidiary of the Ohio Health Council, founded by the OHA and two other health care organizations.

The protocol and related resources are available at: www.ohiopatientsafety.org/Correctsite/ correctsite.htm.

NFPA now allows hand-rub dispensers

The standards council of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), which sets fire safety standards used in 38 states, has announced amendments to the NFPA Life Safety Code that will permit hospitals and other health care facilities to install alcohol-based hand-rub dispensers in their corridors.

"This decision paves the way for hospitals to install these dispensers to allow caregivers ready access to the hand rubs that are proven to save lives without compromising fire safety," said Dale Woodin, deputy executive director of the American Hospital Association’s (AHA) American Society of Healthcare Engineers (ASHE).

The AHA and ASHE have been pushing for changes to current fire codes, which have restricted hospitals’ use and storage of alcohol-based hand rubs, despite the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendation that the hand rubs be used to combat hospital-acquired infections.

The NFPA approved the fire code revisions based on a fire modeling study commissioned by ASHE showing the dispensers can be installed safely as long as they hold no more than 1.2 liters and are not installed too closely together or near electrical outlets. "Our next step is to work with other standards-setting organizations and state and federal agencies to ensure consistency in fire safety codes nationally," Woodin said.