I’m a big believer in ‘MBWA’… Management By Walking Around. I think more good can be done if the person who is in charge of Life Safety compliance walks around the hospital frequently, looking for problems, and turn them into an opportunity for improvement. Take the situation in these pictures… Somebody placed a cart or a plant in front of the fire alarm pull station, and nobody thought that it was a problem.

You really cannot blame the patient-care staff, if they haven’t been instructed not to place items in front of pull stations. What is obvious to you and me, is not so obvious to someone who takes care of patients. Have you stopped to observe how much information a new-hire nurse has to learn during orientation? The nurse gets the regular 2 or 3 days of regular orientation that all new employees receive, then they have to go through another couple of days for specialized nursing orientation.

Was there ever enough time in new employee orientation to cover all the little nuances pertaining to Life Safety? Not if your hospital was like the one I worked in. I did the Safety orientation for new employees, and I was only given 45 minutes to cover all of the basics. I seem to remember that we did not discuss the issue of obstructing pull stations, because there simply wasn’t enough time to cover all the ‘little’ Life Safety issues.

That’s why it is so important to be up on the floors, walking around, talking with as many staff as possible. I frequently introduced myself and let them know who I was so they got familiar with me and comfortable around me. That way, when there was an opportunity for improvement, then we discussed it and they were not threatened by the conversation.

How often should you make your rounds? I tried to do it once a week, and our hospital was around 450 beds. It would take me about an hour to do the entire hospital. Can you spare an hour per week? At times I had another individual do it on my behalf. These rounds are not intended to be the Hazardous Surveillance Rounds that are required twice per year in patient care areas. These are quicker rounds to do some quick observations. Its partly to let the staff know that we’ll be by every so often and it keeps the less diligent ones on their toes.

Management By Walking Around…. It’s sort of like being a politician. Get out there; see and be seen. Stop and talk with a few people. Smile. Shake hands. Let them know what you’re doing. Pretty soon they’ll be looking out for the same things you are.

You’ll find more problems like the ones in the pictures by ‘MBWA’, long before the surveyor finds them. And its the right thing to do.