FDA puts Denver FERN laboratory on closure list

Filed under: Health Care |

The Food and Drug Administration has indicated it will close its laboratory in Denver, according to the Sen. Ken Salazar’s office.

Salazar has joined with Pennsylvania Republican Sen. Arlen Specter to save the lab, which has 52 employees.

The senators introduced an amendment to an FDA bill that requires the department to evaluate the risks to public health and safety of closing any FDA lab in the country.

The department would be required to seek a public report from the General Accounting Office regarding the risks posed to public health and safety, as well as the projected operational cost savings by closing the lab.

The Denver lab is part of the Food Emergency Response Network, which ensures the safety and security of America’s food supply from possible terrorist attack and is the only full-service FERN lab the FDA is aiming to close.

Denver’s FDA lab is also a part of the Centers for Disease Control Select Agent Program, which is one of the first lines of defense against possible bioterrorism attacks involving diseases such as anthrax and botulism.

In addition, national experts in salmonella detection are based at the Denver lab, which specializes in salmonella speciation and antibiotic resistance testing.

It is also home to the FDA’s only testing facility for Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy for the Southwest Region, comprised of Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah and Wyoming, and handles overflow BSE testing work from other regional labs.

Denver’s lab played a role in several prominent consumer-safety scares, including the 1982 Tylenol-tampering case in which several bottles of Tylenol caplets were laced with cyanide while on store shelves in the Chicago area and the investigation of the e. coli spinach contamination in 2006.

WHO releases new solutions to prevent health care errors

Nine solutions to prevent health care errors that harm millions of people daily throughout the world were unveiled by the World Health Organization’s Collaborating Centre for Patient Safety Solutions.

The purpose of the solutions is to prevent human errors from reaching patients.

In 2005, WHO designated The Joint Commission and Joint Commission International as its Collaborating Centre on Patient Safety Solutions.

The Joint Commission International Center for Patient Safety identified widespread problems and challenges to safe care and vetted them through an extensive field review process that garnered feedback from health care providers, practitioners and other experts from more than 100 countries.

The individual Patient Safety Solutions identify the following challenges and strategies:

Medication names — Focus on using protocols to reduce risks and ensure prescription legibility. Use preprinted orders or electronic prescribing.

Patient identification — Emphasize methods to verify patient identity, including patient involvement in this process, standardization of identification methods across hospitals in a health care system and patient participation in this confirmation.

Use protocols for distinguishing the identity of patients with the same name.

Changing care staff — Improve patient hand-overs including the use of protocols for communicating critical information, providing opportunities for practitioners to ask and resolve questions during the hand-over and involving patients and families in the hand-over process.

Surgery at correct site — Prevent these errors by relying on a preoperative verification process, marking the operative site by the practitioner who will do the procedure and having the team involved in the procedure confirm patient identity, procedure, and operative site.

Concentrated electrolyte solutions — Address standard doses, units of measure and terminology to prevent mix-up of concentrated electrolyte solutions.

Medication accuracy — Create a complete and accurate list of all medications the patient is currently taking — also called a “home” medication list.

Compare the list against the admission, transfer and/or discharge orders when writing medication orders, and communicate the list to the next provider of care.

Catheter and tubing misconnections — Address the need for meticulous attention to detail when administering medications and feedings when connecting devices to patients.

Reuse of needles — Education patients and family about transmission of blood borne pathogens should be increased.

One of the biggest global concerns is the spread of Human Immunodeficiency Virus, the Hepatitis B Virus, and the Hepatitis C Virus because of the reuse of injection needles.

Hygiene — Avoid spreading germs through better hygiene.

Hand hygiene is the primary preventive measure for avoiding this problem. Suggest using alcohol-based hand-rubs readily available at points of patient care.

Ensure access to a safe, continuous water supply at all taps/faucets. Teach about correct hand hygiene techniques.

Use hand hygiene reminders in the workplace and measurement of hand hygiene compliance through observational monitoring and other techniques.

For more information, visit www.jointcommission.org.

Amy Gillentine covers health care for the Colorado Springs Business Journal.