Since the 1999 Institute of Medicine report, To Err Is Human, safety in healthcare has received substantial attention in the U.S. While the report highlighted some of the areas of concern, there were no detailed recommendations on how organizations could create their own patient safety initiatives.

It’s been over 14 years since the report was released and hospitals have worked to develop comprehensive programs to improve the safety and security of their facilities ever since. While there are a number of ways to improve patient safety, today we are focusing on vendor training.

Some of the benefits of having a comprehensive vendor training program include:

  • Reducing the spread of disease
  • Protecting patient privacy
  • Decreasing the risk of fire
  • Improving product training for medical staff

Reducing the Spread of Disease
Specific actions need to be taken in a healthcare setting to reduce the risks of spreading disease. Training on important protocols like hand washing and bloodborne pathogens safety plays an essential role in ensuring vendor representatives aren’t inadvertently spreading infections and disease.

According to World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), hand hygiene is one of the most important measures to avoid the transmission of harmful germs and prevent healthcare-associated infections. Training includes when to wash hands, how to properly wash hands and what products (i.e. soap and water vs. alcohol-based hand rubs) work best in different situations. Training on bloodborne pathogens includes techniques on how to minimize exposure to pathogens and how to use personal protective equipment to prevent the transmission of pathogens.

Protecting Patient Privacy
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was enacted into law in 1996 but there is still considerable confusion as to several components of the law and what constitutes a violation of HIPAA regulations. Protecting patient privacy must be a part of a facility’s comprehensive security program. With at least 30 million health records breached since 2009, facilities are being compelled to do all they can to reduce their vulnerability. This includes making sure that every vendor goes through an extensive review of HIPAA laws. Vendors and professional visitors need to be properly trained as many are exposed to protected health information (PHI) in the normal scope of their employment. From those who service copy machines to those who enter the OR, all must be knowledgeable to what constitutes PHI, what a breach is and what to do should one occur.

Decreasing the Risk of Fire
Between 2003 and 2006, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) found that 1,600 fires broke out at hospitals and hospice facilities, resulting in $5.5 million in property damage, 29 injuries and the loss of one life. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), 31 percent of non-confined medical facility fires and 12 percent of all medical facility fires are the result of an electrical failure or malfunction. Because of the risk of fire in a healthcare facility, most vendor training programs require some type of fire and electrical safety training which can help reduce the chances of these types of dangers. Plus, professional visitors need to understand what to do in a fire emergency, so they can take care of themselves, freeing up staff to assist patients. Improving Product Training for Medical Staff

Medical sales representatives are delivering drugs, equipment and devices to help healthcare providers do their job of restoring sick or injured patients to health. Vendor representatives provide training on their products to hospital staff and are often in operating rooms with physicians to ensure proper use or placement of medical devices. In order for this partnership to work, the healthcare facility must have confidence that vendor representatives are fully trained and up-to-date on their company’s products and services. Representatives need to be able to provide the hospitals they serve with evidence of their competency in the form of training certifications or attestations from their employers.

At IntelliCentrics, we understand the importance of vendor training, and we offer fully accredited training through our online learning management system, Reptrax UniversityTM. Our courses are developed by healthcare experts and leading healthcare organizations and include the courses most often required by facilities. Our training certificates are accepted by all vendor credentialing companies, and hospitals can have confidence that reps who have completed our training have the knowledge they need to help keep patients safe.

Contact us to learn more about Reptrax UniversityTM.

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