Infections acquired in a hospital or healthcare facility, known as a health care-associated infection (HAI), are typically caused by the transmission of bacteria due to skin contact. According to recent statistics, one in every 25 patients is admitted or readmitted due an HAI.
Infections can vary from a simple common cold or fever to serious diseases that affect major organs like the brain, heart, and lungs. Some of the most common health care-associated infections include surgical site infections (SSI), bloodstream infections, catheter-associated urinary tract infections and pneumonia.
Infections can spread from even the slightest of carelessness. And as readmission rates become an increasingly higher concern, healthcare providers must start taking direct, intentional measures to reduce the risk of infection within their facilities.
1. Protect all parties.
The clinician, patient and all visitors should be properly protected depending on the nature of illness at hand. Face masks, gloves, and gowns should always be used when necessary. Facilities should also consider the importance of maintaining a variety of dressing sizes and types. If there is not a properly fitting dressing size available, the dressing’s ability to adequately protect the patient will be compromised.
2. Consider the most effective sterilization technique.
Depending on the needs of your facility, ensure that you consider the benefits of using pre-sterilized, disposable equipment versus reusable equipment. Each, of course, have their own benefits. For example, if a surgeon requires specialized, expensive equipment then high-quality reusable surgical instruments may be the best option. But if a piece of equipment is difficult or even impossible to adequately clean, such as a duodenoscope or catheter, then disposable is obviously the best route.
3. Choose the right skin prep.
Just like dressings, there are many skin prep options. Ensure your facility has a variety on hand to meet the infection prevention needs for each patient. It could be as simple as an alcohol prep pad, or as advanced as a Chloraprep® Frepp® or Sepp® Applicator. Again, it depends on the needs at hand and all options should be considered.
4. Don’t underestimate the power of hand washing.
One of the basic and most effective ways to reduce infection is to wash your hands. Healthcare providers must wash their hands before and after contact with every patient. Visitors should also be expected to wash their hands regularly.
5. Standardize and organize from all angles to maintain best practices.
Every nurse should know how to properly wash hands. Every dressing should be changed in the same manner. Every room should be cleaned the same way. Every reusable instrument should undergo the same sterilization process. By pinpointing best practices and standardizing those processes, the quality of care will undoubtedly increase.