OSHA sets minimum health and safety regulations, which are then enforced by TJC. However, because they are only considered minimum requirements, hospitals are free to adopt more stringent policies if they choose. If you’re an emergency physician who is restricted from eating and drinking in your emergency department, even in areas separate from potential contamination, those policies are likely directed by your hospital, not TJC, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or OSHA.
Explore This IssueACEP Now: Vol 38 – No 03 – March 2019
“As we start thinking about ways to improve health systems, wellness is so critical, and eating and drinking directly pertain to that,” said Erik Blutinger, MD, an emergency medicine resident in Philadelphia and Emergency Medicine Residents’ Association representative to the ACEP Board of Directors. “I certainly know that without food and drink, I can’t function. I can’t think straight, and my thoughts are no longer rational and logical. It’s especially important in emergency medicine to be able to eat and drink, given the fact that we can’t even step away for a few minutes from the department.”
How Do You Work with Your Employer to Change Its Food and Drink Policy?
Start advocating for change by making your hospital’s policymakers understand the forces at play regarding this issue. ACEP created a fact sheet that emergency physicians can share with administrators to jump-start this conversation. It explains current OSHA regulations, the role of TJC, and how these factors affect the emergency department. It’s possible that your hospital’s policies were put into place years ago by previous administrators without full understanding of the regulations. Providing the facts, combined with your firsthand testimony reflecting how hard it is to navigate a stressful shift in the emergency department without once pausing for food or drink, creates a compelling case for change. Visit acep.org/letseat to read more.
Ms. Grantham is a communications manager at ACEP.