Infection prevention (IP) is a constant battle. To win it, hospital personnel must constantly strive to upgrade their plan of attack. It is never enough to simply follow current protocol. IP leaders have to monitor performance, track results over time, and explore ways to innovate their processes.
In November 2019, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released its most recent National and State HAI Progress Report. While the figures contained in the report indicate some progress, they also point towards a need to do more.Results in the report were mixed: hospitals nationwide achieved marked reduction in some key HAIs (including C.diff), but some saw barely any drop in incidents. The goal for any hospital is to hit zero cases of HAIs; to do so, reductions must continue and, in fact, accelerate to ensure ultimate patient safety.
Forward-thinking IP leaders work to keep apprised of the latest trends in research, best practices and available technology. Knowing what tools are available to help them beat HAIs in their organizations leaves them better prepared to fight infections, and to stay ahead of the competition. This guide will outline some of the top actions you can take now to ensure 2020 is a year with improved IP results leading to fewer HAIs throughout your system of care.
Is everyone on staff doing everything they should to help prevent HAIs? How can you be certain? You can ask, but personnel might not always be forthright. Supervisors can watch, but they can’t keep an eye on everyone at every moment. Sensor monitoring technology can contribute toward a greater peace of mind in this area. For example, one community hospital in Tennessee has implemented a system that serves to ensure employee adherence to hand-hygiene protocol through a combination of badges, room entry/exit sensors, and devices placed near soap and alcohol gel dispensers. The technology IP staff, nurse managers and other stakeholders were able to track trends over time and make adjustments to maximize IP protocol adherence.
Tackle Every Area
Proactive IP plans endeavor to make sure all treatment-centric areas of their institutions are aggressively addressed in a more comprehensive IP plan. For example, common areas such as waiting rooms should get a closer look to ensure they are included in IP protocol. In addition to implementing more stringent environmental cleaning practices and technologies in non-treatment locales, hospitals are incorporating more antimicrobial materials in surfaces and furniture, offering antibacterial solutions at or near reception, putting patient-forward messaging about HAI prevention in visible locations, and taking other measures.
IP Education For All
The responsibility to prevent HAIs falls on everyone working under the roof of a hospital. However, too often not everyone has received the message loud and clear. While most personnel know basic IP procedures, many staff members don’t get the complete picture. In order to ensure workers at all levels are fully aware of their important role fighting HAIs, hospitals are offering broader, more comprehensive IP training to all staff. The CDC recently introduced a useful resource for hospitals to harness in their IP efforts. States Targeting Reduction in Infections via Engagement (STRIVE) is a detailed training program touching upon everything from hand hygiene and patient engagement to targeted prevention strategies against C.diff and other pathogens.
Deploy Tools With Proven IP Compliance
IP leaders face an increasing amount of pressure to reduce the frequency of HAIs—from patients, staff and regulatory agencies. The costs of infection are
great, both in terms of financial impact and human harm. With an estimated 1.7 million HAIs striking US patients each year, hospital leadership is looking to invest significant resources in combating the problem and bringing those numbers down.
One powerful way to reduce HAIs is incorporating UV disinfection. Bundled with traditional manual cleaning, UVC technology increases the effectiveness of a hospital’s IP protocol by harnessing UV light to target and destroy pathogens that can potentially harm patients. This process renders C.diff, MRSA and other deadly pathogens unable to replicate and halts their spread. If the pathogens that cause HAIs cannot spread, then the risk of patients becoming infected drops.
The most effective UVC systems measure UVC dosage received at targeted areas, using multiple sensors placed throughout a room. This configuration improves upon systems that rely upon timed UVC exposure in treatment rooms. These advanced UVC systems capture and distribute disinfection data in real time, enabling IP personnel to record and share performance data for efficacy reporting. While the technology is advanced, operating these systems is designed to be user-friendly and straightforward. The easier to use a UVC system is, the more likely it is to be effective in reducing HAIs.
Automated technology can be spotted throughout the hospital, from touch-free doors activated with motion sensors, to voice-controlled workstations,
to state-of-the-art robots assisting with complex surgical procedures. This advanced technology provides numerous benefits from an IP perspective. With every reduction in touch, the likelihood that HAIs are transferred from one human to another also lessens. Maximizing use of automation where appropriate throughout a hospital, combined with disinfection practices on all equipment can be a powerful HAI-reducton strategy in an IP plan.
A hospital runs on information, and that data must be shared rapidly, reliably and securely. Evolutions in internet protocol enables an organization to communicate patient and organizational data between teams at the speed of light, from one corner of a hospital to another, or even between different cities or states. This capability becomes especially important when accurate information needs to be exchanged in real time, such as during surgeries or other critical events. The technology can help decrease the risk of mistakes in treatment, patient records, terminal cleaning procedures, and helps improve patient care.
Promote Your IP Efforts
There’s nothing that makes news faster than an HAI breakout at a local hospital. And, with transitions to value-based care occurring throughout the system, it’s more important than ever that patients choose your hospital for their health care needs. Promoting the work your IP and EVS teams do to minimize HAIs through best-in-class IP techniques is an important message to proactively share with your community. With its proprietary dosage measurement technology, RD UVC can demonstrate the effectiveness of your IP plan to both patients and regulators. This can, in turn, elevate confidence among consumers who consider IP data to be an important factor when choosing which hospital or treatment center to visit for care. Consumers care about a hospital’s track record in fighting HAIs, and deploying the IP power of RD UVC can help alleviate their concerns and offer additional proof of compliance.