Recall Manager is the first line of defense protecting JPS patients

April 4th, 2018

In a health system the size of JPS, thousands of things have to be kept on hand so they’re available when patients need them.

It is Network Recall Manager J.C. Newell’s responsibility to make sure all of those products work like they’re supposed to. When something goes wrong with any kind of supplies or equipment, it’s her job to be on top of it and make sure that item is removed before it can do any harm.

“Items in the lab, medical devices and food,” Newell said. “Those are all things that can affect patients’ health, so we monitor them every day. If there is a recall from the Food and Drug Administration or the manufacturer, I find out about it and then check to see if we have it here. Sometimes our people notice something isn’t right and we’re the ones who initiate an inquiry that causes a recall.”

J.C. Newell

J.C. Newell

There isn’t a position like hers at another hospital in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, according to Newell. During The Joint Commission’s recent tri-annual inspection at JPS, surveyors were impressed by that, calling the extra layer of patient protection a best practice. Newell said a lot of her work involves checking a computer database against the JPS inventory. But the former Army biomedical equipment technician and helicopter electrician said coming up with a big find can be just as exciting as working on a Black Hawk chopper.

“Keeping patients safe is our most important job,” Newell said. “So I take that very seriously. I’m not an office potato. I’m a walking recall manager. I’m on the move, checking things out.”

Recent recalls that caused workers to scour JPS to clear out the dangerous items included saline bags that could have been tainted with condensation because of a faulty fitting and needles that could be a stick hazard because they didn’t properly lock. The incident that The Joint Commission was most impressed with was  a recall  of pancake mix discovered just as breakfast was being served to patients. The manufacturer reported listeria was found in its factory, a bacteria that causes a serious infection especially dangerous to people with weakened immune systems. Newell sprang into action and JPS team members ran through the halls nabbing potentially dangerous pancakes off of patients’ trays in the name of safety.

“It was a little crazy for a while, but we were able to get them,” Newell said of the recalled flapjacks. “Later that day, we heard that 15 nurses in Georgia got listeria poisoning after using the same product. So that makes it all hit home about how important it is that we stay on top of things.”

It’s not just medical supplies and food that can be a risk. Newell said she is also on guard for software issues that could cause problems for JPS computers, faulty machinery including patient monitors that could feed doctors and nurses inaccurate information, expired stock and just about anything else that could possibly go wrong. Recently, there was a recall on a defibrillator that could have caused the device to fail when a person in cardiac arrest needed it the most.

“We’re the first line of patient safety,” Newell said of her department. “There’s not a day that goes by without a recall for something.”


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