TJC Recommendations for Protecting Patients during Utility System Outages

PUBLISHED: Jan 24, 2017

The Joint Commission has issued a new Quick Safety Issue to raise awareness and provide recommendations for protecting patients during utility system outages. According to TJC, disruptions to utility systems can impact an organization’s ability to ensure the provision of safe patient care and treatment. Organizations must have plans in place to address utility system outages.

There are numerous actions organizations can take to ensure readiness in the event of a utility system (e.g., electricity, water, IT systems, medical gas and vacuum systems, etc.). Some of the actions that TJC recommends include:

  • Have a current inventory of utility system components.
  • Ensure main utility system controls are clearly labeled.
  • Have a map of the distribution of the utility system, including accessibility.
  • Develop and distribute and conduct training with a written plan that outlines the response to a utility system disruption.
  • Ensure there is clear accountability including identification of who within the organization has access to system controls, who has the authority to shut them off, and what circumstances they can be shut off.
  • Ensure staff is trained to understand their roles and responsibilities during a utility system shutdown.
  • Have standard operating procedures (SOPs) and clear that address clinical interventions that may need to be implemented.
  • Conduct periodic testing of utility system disruption and contingency plans

A link to TJC’s Quick Safety Issue 30: Protecting patients during utility system outages is provided below. Also included with this notice are example policies and procedures related to utility system disruption. MCN Healthcare’s Utilities and Equipment Management Policy and Procedure Manual has additional policies relevant to preparing for and responding to utility systems failures.

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