Blog / Focus: Infection Control

How infection prevention can be improved in healthcare facilities

By Olivia Ryan / Special to Healthcare Facilities Today
May 15, 2018

The safety of the patients is a priority for the healthcare system worldwide. Still, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that in the U.S, five to ten percent of all hospitalized patients contract a healthcare associated infection.  This should definitely not be the case, so why does it happen?

Quality of care is based on safety of the patient, as well as the right approach toward dealing with their health problems. But, with so many hospitalized people who come with various infections that need to be treated, it is quite hard to prevent the spreading of these. Because of such occurring, healthcare initiatives constantly seek ways to improve infection prevention in hospitals.

‘’Fortunately, the spread of the HAI can be controlled. The goal of the healthcare system is to prevent or minimize infections, done so through Comprehensive unit-based safety programs; to something as simple as hand hygiene of the staff.’’ – explains Zack Eaton, expert who works at Aussie Writings.  

Knowing this, there are some very basic things that could definitely improve this problem.

Hand hygiene

The simplest and most important approach to preventing infections from spreading in the healthcare institutions is hand hygiene. This approach should be implemented not only by surgical team personnel, but all other employees who are part of the treatment process of the patients, as well as those who are responsible for keeping the hospital up to healthcare standards (nurses, cleaning staff, etc.).

Most importantly, hand hygiene MUST be the highest priority to the surgical teams. They should wash the hands and arms, as well as forearms before any procedure, and put sterile gloves afterward.

Environment

According to the Field Epidemiology Manual, environment is the main source of infection transmission. Surfaces are the biggest culprit – but we are also talking about shared use devices, water reservoirs like sinks and humidifiers, and even building materials used during maintenance or renovations.

All these inanimate environment objects can be the cause of infection in patients. They are sometimes spread through air, but in most cases, healthcare providers or a patient touches the surfaces with the skin, therefore transmitting or contracting the infection.

Knowing this, the second step that must be taken is to keep the environmental hygiene high at all times.

Consistent screening of patients

Before a patient is treated with surgery or other procedures, they must be screened for infections. In a healthcare institution, it is highly essential to keep the patients who suffer from a specific infection or disease in a designated area, together. This will ensure that there is no cross infection between patients.

When two or more people are treated in the same area, they share more than the air. Even if the infection is not airborne, the staff and patient care equipment is often the same. Therefore, every patient should be screened for infections prior to being placed into an area for treatment to avoid infection spreading from one patient to another.

Surveillance programs

Surveillance programs will help the healthcare organization in gathering data regarding the present infections at the facility, as well as the patterns that occur. This will aid them in assessing the protocols for infection prevention in place and promoting patient safety.

Vaccinations

Surely, hospitals cannot be certain or make people take vaccinations to prevent infection spreading, but they must take all necessary precautions for the staff to not be the cause of the spreading. Healthcare organizations are still filled with non-vaccinated staff that comes into contact with people who carry different infections and diseases. This staff is very likely to contract an infection and transmit it further to patients and other employees.

Keeping the healthcare professionals healthy is key to an infection-free facility and cannot be achieved only by washing hands or using sterile gloves.

Comprehensive unit-based safety programs

The CUSP is a strategic framework specially structured to ensure safe environment for the patient. This program integrates leadership, communication and teamwork and is created by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

Every healthcare provider or facility must be aware of the safety programs and have prevention rules in place, as well as an infection control department that ensures all employees are healthy and the infections are surveilled and under control.

Each of the six strategies we explained in this short list should help reduce the spread of infections in hospitals. Even so, many hospitals worldwide do not have the equipment, conditions or knowledge to keep the infection spread at bay, making it essential to detect and provide these with the necessary means to implement the CUSPs in the first place.

When the healthcare system manages to implement and carry out these strategies, the infection prevention level should be on a much higher level.

Ryan is a blogger who writes on topics of digital marketing, career, and self-development. Connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

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