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Rust, the Color of the Fall

By John Garrett

The infection control department has to be concerned with every part of a hospital physically as well as how things are done. They are constantly trying to reduce the risk of infection just as their name would suggest. This is done a number of ways that include introducing the latest “best practice” in a department or throughout the hospital as well as finding potential hazards that no one has thought of yet. Meet the next big enemy of infection control: RUST.

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has started to look at rust in procedure rooms, as well as throughout hospitals and cite it as an infection risk. Rust anywhere in a hospital should be reported and mediated. In some cases, this requires replacement of items. Sometimes it is simply a wire bush and a cloth to clear the rust. Many incidents of rust can be mediated with various chemicals and paint products. The local auto body shop will have a number of options available for rust remediation including paints that when applied properly meet food services specifications. These paints are specifically designed for rust remediation and applications.

The bigger issue is where to go find the rust before a Joint Commission, DNV or CMS inspection. Where are the inspectors looking? What are they citing? How can someone servicing medical imaging equipment be of assistance?

The most common occurrences of rust in an imaging room occur near the floor. Due to the nature of floor cleaning, that is where most of the rust originates. Feet kicking a table, a mop or floor cleaner bumping into a stand, table or floor mounting. Even on equipment that has plastic covers, you should check the screws and metal supports.

Of special interest will be procedural rooms. Rooms such as cath labs, interventional radiology and C-arms used in operating rooms need to get special and detailed attention. It is important to inspect the equipment through the full range of motion. Areas that are exposed at the extreme ends of motion are often hiding rust.

Finally, while you may not be directly responsible for things like tables and overhead booms, you may want to point it out to those that are responsible for them. This is a team effort. Make sure they see the rust that you see. That will grant them the opportunity to remediate any rust before it becomes an issue with an inspection.

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