This article follows the previous article on Committee Management, which appeared in the July 2012 issue of 24×7 and discussed the hospital Medical Equipment Committee. This article will continue on this topic and review the hospital’s Environment of Care (EC) Committee.
The Environment of Care
The biomedical/clinical engineering professional is usually a member or could be a chair or co-chair of the Environment of Care Committee. Depending on the health care organization, this committee may also be called the EC Committee, the Safety Committee, or the EOC Committee.
In large health care organizations, there could be a main EC Committee that may be supported by subcommittees that deal with specific EC areas, such as medical equipment, life safety, security, emergency management, and hazardous materials.
For example, there could be a Hazardous Materials Subcommittee, which would deal with hazardous materials and waste in the hospital and address the requirements of EC.02.02.01. Similarly, there could be other subcommittees, such as the Life Safety Committee, the Emergency Management Committee, and others. The purpose of these subcommittees is to focus in-depth on these EC areas and submit reports and/or recommendations to the main EC Committee.
Joint Commission Standards
Joint Commission standards do not require or specify the creation of an EC Committee. The Joint Commission standard, EC.04.01.03 EP 1, states that, “representatives from clinical, administrative, and support services participate in the analysis of Environment of Care data.”
Also, the standard, EC.04.01.01 EP 1 states that, “the hospital establish a process (es) for continually monitoring, internally reporting, and investigating the following: … medical or laboratory equipment management problems, failures, and use errors.”
Biomedical/clinical engineering departments should have an ongoing process of collection and dissemination of information about the deficiencies and opportunities for improvement in the medical equipment management program to the EC Committee. The report would be prepared periodically (eg, monthly, quarterly, etc) and must include information on medical equipment maintenance completion, use errors, failures, recalls, incidents, and other equipment management issues.
Role of the EC Committee
The basic role of the EC Committee is to manage and coordinate the Environment of Care program in the health care organization. The EC Committee provides a forum to discuss EC issues. It develops and reviews the EC plans and makes recommendations for the deficiencies identified during EC rounds and surveys.
To be effective, the EC Committee should have a substantial impact on the safety of the health care organization. Carefully selected performance indicators in all the EC areas should measure the impact of the committee.1
EC Committee Membership
The committee should include representatives from administration, nursing and clinical areas, and support areas (eg, engineering/facilities and biomedical/clinical engineering). The committee should include representatives from each of the seven EC areas. It is recommended that to make the EC Committee influential, it should be chaired by a higher level administrative person in the organization (eg, chief operating officer, senior vice president of operations, vice president of operations, etc).2
Arif Subhan, MS, CCE, FACCE, is the chief biomedical engineer at the VA Nebraska-Western Iowa Health Care System, Omaha; adjunct assistant professor, biomedical engineering, University of Connecticut; and a member of 24×7?’s editorial advisory board. The suggestions and views expressed in this article are of the author. They do not represent the views of the Department of Veterans Affairs or the University of Connecticut. For more information, contact.
- Johnson W, Zahorsky TA. Managing an effective safety committee. Available at: www.hfmadv.org/documents/RunningEfffectiveSafetyCommittee.pdf. Accessed August 10, 2012.
- The Joint Commission. Patient Safety & the EC: Getting Clear on Safety Committees. EC News. October 2006:6-7.