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I-Team: OSHA Fines Melrose-Wakefield Hospital $28,000 For Unsafe Conditions

By WBZ-TV Chief Correspondent Joe Shortsleeve,
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MELROSE (CBS) – The emergency room at Melrose-Wakefield Hospital was operating as normal Monday. But the hospital has been under the microscope of the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

iTeamSmallBugLayerAnd according to documents obtained by the I-Team, the feds did not like what they saw. The hospital is now facing a $28,000 fine. OSHA decided to do an inspection at the hospital after the agency received a complaint about possible violations of what is known as the blood borne pathogen standard. That is a standard which protects workers from health hazards.

The report found a number of serious problems:

“Employees are exposed to sharps injuries when contaminated disposable blades are included with reusable surgical instruments to be cleaned and sterilized.”

And that “surgical employees did not always disassemble and wipe down used surgical instruments … prior to transporting in open or loosely covered basins…”

And “surgical employees placed open or loosely covered basins containing hazardous medical waste (excess blood, tissue, bone, feces, fat, etc.) and contaminated instruments into utility carts that leaked these contaminated fluids during handling ….”

WBZ’s medical editor, Dr. Mallika Marshall, says this should not be happening.

“So I think the fact that there might be bodily fluids that are spilling out of containers and contaminating floors and possibly contaminating workers is very disturbing,” she said.

Jeff Hall is from the Local 1199 SEIU union which represents about 294 hospital employees.

“The first priority has to be patient and worker safety. That is why we have representatives meeting with hospital management right now pressing them for information on this situation.”

The owner of the hospital,  Hallmark Health,  released this statement to the I-Team:

“Melrose-Wakefield Hospital cooperated fully with OSHA’s requests for a site and information review. All issues identified have been resolved or are being addressed. We are reviewing the final report closely to address any additional opportunities for improved safety. We take employee safety and quality care very seriously, as evidenced by the recognition Hallmark Health has received by several organizations, including as one of the top workplaces in the region and the nation.”

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