Friday, February 10, 2012

‘Don’t eat where you treat’

A COFFEE CUP in a hallway between patient rooms may seem harmless, but consuming food or drink in patient care areas – places where there is a risk of exposure to blood or other infectious material – has the potential to spread disease and is prohibited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the MGH Bloodborne Pathogen Exposure Control Plan. In collaboration with the Infection Control Unit, an Infection Control Tiger Team – led by Mallory Davis, associate director of Corporate Compliance, and George Reardon, director of Patient Care Services Clinical Support Services – is working to increase employee awareness about where it is acceptable to eat and drink.

“Our goal is to protect patients and staff, but we want to balance safety with realistic expectations for access to food and drink,” says Davis. “We understand that staff need to be able to eat and hydrate throughout the day.”

The chart at right offers guidelines about where it is safe and appropriate to consume food and drink and where it is not. Individual units may be more restrictive depending on patients’ needs.

“We don’t want staff to eat or drink in patient care areas for a number of reasons,” Reardon says. “We want to protect patients, co-workers and ourselves from contamination and be respectful to those who might be fasting or sensitive to smells. We also want to maintain a clean, safe and professional environment, which includes not attracting pests of any kind and safeguarding important equipment that might be located in these areas.”

For more information, call Infection Control at 617-726-2036 or access

Read more articles from the 2/10/12 Hotline issue.


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