In the fight against healthcare associated infections (HAIs), infection prevention (IP) leaders at hospitals across the country have been stepping up their game. In recent years, these proactive professionals have diligently increased use of numerous useful tools—information, education, improved manual cleaning practices, advanced sanitation technology and more. And in the future, IP will become an even more pressing issue as value-based care metrics are implemented and patients demand better efficacy from their time at a hospital.
Evidence shows that all the hard work of these IP pros is paying off. The Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) HAI data tells a positive tale with HAI statistics:
- The most recent National and State Healthcare Associated Infections Progress Report indicates in 2018, acute-care hospitals across the country saw a significant decrease (up to 12%) in a number of problematic pathogens (such as CAUTI, CLABSI, and hospital- onset C. diff), compared to 2017 infection rates.
- An examination of 2018 infection rates in various states indicates that, compared to 2015 data, 49 out of 50 states improved their performance on two or more tracked infection types, and 33 states boosted their performance on at least four infection types.
- No state saw an increase in more than one type.
Unfortunately, while there are many bright spots in the CDC’s HAI reports, the data also clearly shows there is still work to be done. Every day, one out of every 31 patients in US hospitals is struck by one or more HAIs acquired during their hospital stay. Hundreds of thousands of these patients die each year. The decline in many types of infections definitely provides promising news, but IP professionals are fully aware that they cannot ease up on their efforts until zero patients are infected.
Because improvements shown in HAI data gathered by the CDC and other agencies proves increased efforts to better train and equip hospitals to fight infections is working, that work should continue. By striving to improve their efforts to educate healthcare personnel, and harness better and more efficient tools, IP leaders across the country can continue bringing the rate of all HAIs closer to zero.
Boosting IP Efforts
If your organization is going to keep bringing HAI rates down, it is vital to come up with a plan that is easy to implement, comprehensive, and effective. The first step is performing an infection control gap assessment Crafting this plan starts at the top, but its success requires everyone on your staff to be fully onboard and dedicated to fighting pathogens wherever they threaten to strike.
Investment in UV Disinfection
A study in the journal Antimicrobial Resistance & Infection Control reports that even after being subjected to four rounds of manual cleaning and getting disinfected with a bleach solution, 25% of rooms were still contaminated with Acinetobacter baumanii. Clearly, manual cleaning is a good start, but hospitals must do more.
Hospitals across the country have achieved impressive results by following manual cleaning with UV light disinfection. For example, Penn Medicine implemented UV disinfection systems at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in 2013. They’ve since seen the number of patients with bacterial infections drop by about two-thirds; on cancer patient floors, the hospital achieved a 25% reduction in C. diff transmission through the use of UV light disinfection.
Manual cleaning, disinfection technology, staff education and other IP actions are important. For your IP strategy to be effective, it must have multiple components working together. If any piece is missing, your hospital is missing opportunities to reduce HAIs.
Officials at Rochester General Hospital assembled a multi-pronged approach to their infection-fighting strategy, combining multiple aggressive IP tactics to bring down rising C. difficile rates. Their stepped-up strategy brought about a 56% reduction in infections between 2011 and 2015.
Your EVS and IP teams should work together to develop a solid IP strategy. However, for this intelligently crafted plan to work, all staff beyond your infection-focused leadership also needs to be fully aware.
The threat of harmful pathogens is found throughout your healthcare facility. To fight these pathogens, IP strategy needs to reach throughout your hospital, too. This is why any effective IP strategy needs to include communication that reaches all hospital personnel. If every employee knows the right IP protocol, they can contribute to IP efforts.
After your entire hospital staff has been educated on the importance of infection control, they then need to learn how to put that knowledge to use. The more familiar personnel are with proper cleaning and hospital room disinfection protocol, the fewer opportunities HAIs have to impact the patient population.
IP leadership should partner with other management to ensure all personnel receive infection-control training. Regardless of job title, each employee should know proper procedures for washing hands, disinfecting surfaces and equipment, handling soiled linens, dealing with biomedical waste, and more. Employees that handle specialized equipment, such as UVC disinfection systems, should be properly versed in their use to maximize their effectiveness.
Interested in learning more about elevating your hospital’s infection prevention efforts through UV disinfection?
Download our free eBook 4 Tips for Efficient and Effective Infection Prevention now.
Empowering Your People
A hospital might invest significant funds in manual cleaning equipment and chemicals, and purchase the latest UVC disinfection equipment. To make those investments fully pay off, though, requires the time and commitment of your staff.
Just like every other piece of the IP puzzle, your people will have the most effective impact if your team implements a strong strategy for their participation. Here are some steps to help craft your strategy:
Pinpoint the leaders
While all staff at every level contribute to infection control, people in strong leadership positions can help spread the word and set a solid example for others. Look for employees like department heads, compliance officers, nursing team leaders and other personnel who already fill leadership roles.
Want to learn more about supporting your IP leaders? Read Effective IP Starts With Strong Leaders.
Craft a plan
Now that you’ve shone a spotlight on the staff best equipped to help lead your IP plan, it is time to put together a plan and document it. This document should take into account pathogens the organization has had particular problems with, look at past problems, analyze current protocol, determine what has and hasn’t worked in the past. The team should also look at the costs and ROI for new solutions, and put together reports that include all pertinent information, to share with stakeholders and decision makers.
Circulate the plan
We discussed above the importance of enlisting the help of all staff to increase the effectiveness of your organization’s work to fight HAIs. Openly and fully communicating your IP protocols and procedures helps in ensuring their awareness.
Informing all staff the importance of total buy-in across your entire staff ensures each employee knows what actions they need to take to support your IP strategy. What’s more, this knowledge helps staff at all level spot gaps in the system, so you can correct such risky errors. For example, if everyone knows the proper way to wash hands, disinfect equipment, handle linens, deal with biomedical waste, etc., they have the knowhow necessary to tell if a step is being missed and take whatever action is needed to set things right.
Take on technology
In addition to manual cleaning, high-tech disinfection equipment can bolster your hospital’s fight to eradicate deadly pathogens. Hand hygiene and surface cleaning should be bundled with more advanced processes, such as UV disinfection systems, to decrease patient exposure to HAI-causing bugs.
When your staff invests in high-tech equipment like UVC disinfection units, the staff responsible for handling such technology also should be trained on its use. This training helps increase the equipment’s effectiveness, ensuring the correct UVC dosage is applied to effectively disinfect ORs, patient rooms and other important areas, to help decrease harmful exposure to HAIs.
Learn more about getting staff on board with your IP plan
Download our free eBook Empowering Infection Prevention Champions.
How UVC Disinfection Technology Works
The UV Disinfection system administers the specific dose of ultraviolet light needed to eradicate harmful pathogens in an operating room, emergency room, patient room or other area of the hospital. When bundled with manual cleaning and disinfection protocols, the technology significantly reduces the presence of patient exposure to HAIs.
UVC dosing works to reach all areas within a treated room, including those in shadowed or hard-to-reach places. By penetrating areas that manual cleaning and other technology cannot, The RD UVC system ensures disinfection is as complete as possible. Wireless, remote sensors help provide confirmation that the precise amount of UVC light needed to eradicate bacteria, viruses and spores is administered for optimal effectiveness. Treatment data can be tracked on a tablet or other device to determine which rooms have been treated, by whom and how often, to assure proper treatment.
The best UVC equipment is engineered to operate as efficiently as possible to reduce treatment time and return treatment areas to service quickly. A “pause and reposition” feature helps operators streamline use of the technology. The technology helps staff quickly disinfect crucial areas and return rooms to service; the accelerated turnaround time makes it possible to treat more patients in any given day.
Tracking treatment data, monitoring effectiveness, and sharing with necessary stakeholders is an important function of UVC technology. The RD UVC system enables managers to check real-time status on tablets to ensure the equipment is being used properly and effectively. The system also captures and stores records via an on-board computer, automatically sending it to a secure cloud system for later analysis and reporting.
To see the RD UVC technology in action, request a demo today.
Lowering Costs and Increasing Efficiency
Hospital leadership at every level often is charged with maintaining a balance between conserving costs wherever possible, and increasing the efficiency of their departments. Any technique or technology that enables them to achieve both at once offers significant appeal.
HAIs cost US hospitals up to $45 billion each year—a huge expenditure that could be avoided if infection is prevented. A study in the American Journal of Infection Control indicates that an effective IP strategy saves a hospital more than it costs.
The RD UVC system is one solution that makes it possible for hospitals to mitigate expenses while also offering improved performance and efficiency. The American Journal of Infection Control also reports using the RD UVC technology to achieve a 20% reduction in C.diff cases alone could save a hospital approximately $1.365 million in associated costs each year.
Additionally, the effective and efficient disinfection performance the RD UVC affords enables hospitals to boost their throughput with no risk to patient safety. The technology enables staff to reduce the presence of deadly pathogens and return the room to service in a relatively short amount of time, especially compared to other technologies. For example, a reflected light system would take approximately 57 minutes to treat a patient room for C. diff and return it to service. By contrast, the RD UVC system would take approximately 13 minutes to perform the same task because it leverages a proprietary pause and reposition functionality. Environmental services staff can measure – in real-time – how much of a room is being disinfected and then pause/reposition RD UVC to ensure every surface is being given the proper UVC dosage to kill harmful microorganisms. This means the RD UVC disinfection system empowers your EVS team to treat up to four times more rooms in the same amount of time. Faster throughput means greater profitability for your hospital, making the technology worth your investment.
See for yourself how the RD UVC disinfection system can transform your IP efficacy.
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