This may be a little out of the normal scope of things…

By Steve MacArthur, Hospital Safety Consultant

We are constantly bombarded with interpretations of code and regulation that are oftentimes extrapolations on very basic principles. Certainly, one of the cornerstones of the discussions we’ve had over the years is the sense that, when it comes to compliance, there are no magic bullets, one-size-fits-all, ways to skin the animal of your choice.

Compliance is a custom blend that varies substantially from place to place. How are we managing the risks associated with X; with Y; with Z—it’s always nice to adopt a best practice so one doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel (so to speak).

All too often, what is actually required can be different from what someone is trying to impress upon you during a survey. Asking a surveyor to “show you” where it is in the code is clearly a useful strategy, but just because something isn’t specified in a code or regulation doesn’t necessarily mean that the converse is true (aka trying to prove a negative—tough work).

I think there is little question that we have access to more information (and misinformation) than at any time in history and the more effectively we can manage that flow, the more “informed” we can be. So, some skills that can help figure out where the reality of any situation may lie can also be used in helping to figure out if a survey finding or a consultative recommendation is based on what is required, or is an overreach of an interpretation.

One resource I found that might be useful in helping you separate the wheat from the chaff as you are bombarded by an incessant flow of information comes by way of the News Literacy Project.  

The project’s goal (and I’m paraphrasing a little bit here) is to provide resources to help folks “distinguish between legitimate news—information gathered in a dispassionate search for facts—and materials that are created to persuade, sell, mislead or exploit. I personally have gathered a lot of useful information on just that in their weekly e-mail offerings and then I saw that they were hosting a series of webinars to help folks identify misinformation relative to the upcoming elections.

If you think this is something about which you might be interested, you can find out about the individual programs (and links to register) here:  All things being equal (which almost never happens, but please humor me), I do think that some of the skills and strategies that will be covered in the webinars also have practical applications in the non-political (or perhaps less-political) realm.

So, a little off the normal track of things, but I think something of value…

In other news, a friend of mine from the Left Coast had posted the link to a very interesting research article on flood risks to hospitals. I was surprised (and not necessarily pleasantly so) to find that my area of the Northeast is at greater risk of flooding than I might have imagined.

Some of the areas are probably not going to surprise anyone, but the data does seem to support a future state that will require some forethought and planning as time goes by. Sobering stuff, indeed – check it out:

About the Author: Steve MacArthur is a safety consultant with Chartis Clinical Quality Solutions (formerly known as The Greeley Company) in Danvers, Mass. He brings more than 30 years of healthcare management and consulting experience to his work with hospitals, physician offices, and ambulatory care facilities across the country. He is the author of HCPro's Hospital Safety Director's Handbook and is contributing editor for Healthcare Safety Leader. Contact Steve at