Hospitals are facilities that operate as a 24-hour-a-day business in an industry known for being fast pace. Healthcare organizations employ vast staff such as clinicians, technicians, hospital safety officers, and other workers and team members.
Inside a healthcare facility, you may encounter people including patients, visitors, vendors, and more. Like any company’s work environment, hospital teams face problems regarding safety and risk.
Data from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports that these medical buildings are home to work-related injuries. Information from auditors shows that more than 200,000 injuries or illnesses occur among workers occur each year.
Hospitals are often a site for life and death situations as users of their emergency department arrive in real-time. Emergency rooms are a place where things involving critical life safety events occur as routinely as customers walking into a retailer.
As a volatile stage, hospitals must devote effort toward ways of enhancing efficiency and implementation of safety guidelines. In today’s regulatory environment, hospitals face tremendous scrutiny regarding standards, compliance, and security.
One day a hospital might be the subject of a case study and the next day face onsite inspections or audits. Hospitals must meet the quality metrics of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the ISO health standards.
Other requirements might involve an Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) process or a National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) issue.
Equipment and assets are inspected for deficiencies and must meet standards for setup, repairs, and other action plans.
In years past, hospital center locations created documentation by hand using a pen and paper. Today, inspection forms, checklists, tasks, and codes must be documented electronically using some software application.
Software Solutions for Hospital Inspection Reports
Virtually all units within a hospital today can connect electronically to the web. Each location now can share critical data in real-time.
A medical facility manager seeking a solution for documenting the inspection process can choose from various options. In addition, generators of these solutions for healthcare organizations often also provide ongoing service and support.
Feedback from hospital industry experts suggests that despite taking steps for improvement, a staffing shortage in the U.S. continues. Hospitals continue to struggle with maintaining a staff of workers sufficient for their seven-day schedule.
One step that medical facility professionals can take involves adopting forms of automation. Most facilities and health systems have developed an in-house IT and networking staff or entered a partnership with a provider.
Common Characteristics of Inspection Software
A software company might create and develop several types of solutions for healthcare facilities. Some basic expectations include email integration, a mobile app, and accessibility using a smartphone, tablet, iPad, or another mobile device.
Most systems now feature cloud storage and users may upload photos associated with digital inspections and create tickets and work orders. The days of a simple ticket work order system have passed and network security steps provide peace of mind.
Software systems should have some degree of adaptability or ability to customize the tools, reminders, and reporting capabilities. The customization should reflect the intended workflow such as in terms of scheduling or current work orders.
Those in a supervisory or managerial capacity will rely on inspection software as a means of assessing performance and accountability. A facility manager might want to customize the report based on variables including department, building, or specific employee.
Inspection software might also house key data regarding repurchasing of supplies—some form of inventory management tools. Keep in mind that many of the tools, equipment, systems and components subject to inspection often have warranties.
In terms of tools or equipment warranties, a manufacturer or distributor might specify that the facility must perform specific tasks. For example, a piece of equipment might need a weekly visual inspection and a more detailed monthly testing requirement.
In many cases, a hospital facility that fails to adhere to the inspection or maintenance guidelines will experience a system failure. A system failure or other problem may create unforeseen and costly downtime that cannot be recouped and creates collateral problems.
Maintenance and inspection failures might create extended delays if replacement components are unavailable or require days or weeks for shipping. Keep in mind that failing to perform inspections or maintenance might also invalidate a tool or piece of equipment’s warranty.
Having Inspection Documentation for NFPA Compliance
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) established NFPA 99, which is a set of standards known as the Health Care Facilities Code. Although NFPA guidelines typically pertain to the life safety process and certification regarding fire—this code goes further.
A healthcare facility must assess risk; specifically, what impact a failure involving devices, equipment, or systems would have on patients. At the center of the risk assessment are concerns involving injuries or fatalities among patients, in addition to clinicians and staff.
The following table explains how risk is assessed and how critical preventative efforts should be prioritized.
|Risk Categories 4.1||The Likely Outcome if a System, Device, or Equipment Failure Occurred|
|4.1.1 Category 1||May result in major injuries or fatalities among facility occupants|
|4.1.2 Category 2||May result in minor injuries among facility occupants|
|4.1.3 Category3||Is unlikely to result in injuries among facility occupants|
|4.1.4 Category 4||Poses no risk to building occupants|
Source: Consulting-Specifying Engineer
NFPA 99 is applicable across most types of medical buildings except those involved with home health care. The rules and requirements apply regardless of building occupancy i.e., number of beds, patient rooms, or maximum capacity.
The Most Critical Systems or Equipment to Inspect
The Health Care Facilities Code Handbook outlines the following primary systems and equipment within a hospital or similar medical facility:
- Gas Equipment and Vacuum Systems: Involves pressurized medical gas systems, vacuum systems, and disposal of waste anesthetic gas.
- Electrical Systems & Equipment: Electricity is a critical backbone in most facilities and hazards such as electrical shock or fire must be avoided.
- Information Technology and Communications Systems: Medical facilities today are increasingly more reliant on electronic technology, digital communications, and network storage; therefore, minimizing potential vulnerabilities is critical. The category may include nurse call systems and resuscitation alarms.
- HVAC Systems: Involves operations, efficiency, maintenance, and testing of heating, cooling, and ventilation systems in health care environments.
- Emergency Management: Medical facilities develop plans in preparation for properly responding to potential disasters and recovery procedures. Some of the potential calamities involved include hurricanes, earthquakes, mass shootings, and other unforeseen problems.
- Security Management: Security concerns extend broadly into an array of areas such as securing patient information or storage of controlled medications. Others might include background screening and drug testing of team members or contracted security personnel.
- Features of Fire Protection: Sprinkler systems exist throughout the majority of medical facilities. Certain parts of the sprinkler system require visual (only) inspection each week or month. Major components require a more detailed inspection quarterly, semi-annually, and annually. Fire extinguishers are another critical requirement in buildings and require some regular inspection. A professionally-installed fire alarm system is also necessary and subject to regular inspection and testing.
The Importance of Inspections & Documentation for Accident Prevention
Hospital environments are often unpredictable and stressful situations commonly arise requiring patience and diligence. Clinicians, caregivers, and others encountering patients assume a general duty to “not harm.”
Among the most common concerns in a hospital setting are slip-and-fall accidents, which occur frequently in these environments. Often patients struggle with mobility, are prescribed multiple medications and may have impaired vision—potentially exacerbating these concerns.
Falls are a leading cause of fractures such as those involving the hips or dangerous traumatic head injuries. Hospital staff also is often moving rapidly and experiencing fatigue, another possible contributing factor.
OSHA is among the agencies that remain most active in education and enforcement regarding hazards in the work environment. Slip-and-fall accidents highlight another reason why general inspections of existing conditions are critical.
For example, objects or debris situated on a flight of stairs can pose a legitimate danger. The same applies to spills near entryways that are a hazard.
Looking specifically at documentation, the Joint Commission currently posts standards for fire safety system inspection records and reports. Most of these specifications are straightforward including the name or type of activity, the date, and any inventory details.
Further, the Joint Commission requests that the scheduled or intended frequency of the inspection be noted. The individual performing the inspection should be noted along with a reference number or chapter of any corresponding NFPA standard(s).
Provider of Inspection Software Solutions for Hospital Facilities
The importance of proactively assessing all property conditions, equipment, and systems should not be underestimated. A regular plan of inspection, preventative maintenance, and testing, is critical for preventing injuries, system failure, and potential liability.
When inspections and related activities are performed, they must also be properly documented for a host of reasons. As technology has improved, creating this important history or documentation has become simpler.
Having a system that integrates with most devices, allows for some customization, and uses the latest in security technology is important. At Ranyan, our software solutions are available for hospitals and medical facilities that need assistance with organizing, scheduling, documenting, and more.
Hospital administrators, operations, and facility management teams will benefit from our technology for eliminating paperwork, enhancing communication, and much more. Contact us today for additional information.