Important infection control strategies that hospitals should consider
Despite rigorous government-mandated procedures for cleanliness and hygiene, healthcare-associated infections remain a common problem. HAIs are infections spread by either the implementation and use of certain medical devices or in areas of the body where surgery has recently occurred, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explained. According to statistics provided by the CDC, as many as 1 in 25 patients will develop an HAI at some point during a hospital stay.
Some of the most common forms of HAIs, according to the CDC, include:
- Surgical site infections: Caused by staph bacteria found on the skin, SSIs occur in or near surgical wounds. MRSA is a common SSI.
- Bloodstream infections: These occur thanks to bacteria that enters the body through central venous catheters – tubes that are connected to the large vein to collect blood samples and deliver medication, food and fluids.
- Urinary tract infections: Caused by the insertion of catheters.
Other infections that can be spread in a medical setting include the human papillomavirus (HPV), hepatitis and, in very rare cases, HIV. These infections can be spread through the use of reusable medical devices such as vaginal speculums and laryngoscopes. Indeed, according to a study from researchers based at Brigham Young University, HPV in particular can be spread from medical tools, on account of the fact that standardized disinfection methods are ineffective at killing certain strains of the virus – namely HPV16, which can engender cancers in the genital region.
Strategies for hospitals and clinics
In addition to standardized infection control policies already in place, such as rigorous hand washing and equipment sterilization, hospitals should consider these additional strategies when devising infection control policies:
1. Ensuring all staff members are vaccinated
If staff members become unwell with a cold or the seasonal flu and still report to work, the risk of virus and germ transmission obviously increases. In addition to ensuring that all staffers remain home in the event of sickness, it is important to encourage all staff to receive necessary vaccinations, such as the flu shot, Becker's Hospital Review detailed. With an immunized staff the risk of the spread of illness is reduced even further.
2. Monitoring antibiotic use
It is important that medical professionals don't overprescribe antibiotics to patients, as it is possible for patients to become immune to the effects, rendering them at risk of further illness, Becker's Hospital Review outlined. All patient antibiotic use should be monitored and regulated, contingent on the patient's illness and so on.
3. Reusable devices
Hospitals should make the switch to reusable medical devices, such as the range on offer from OBP Medical. Reusable devices eliminate the risk of cross-contamination with diseases such as HPV, HIV and hepatitis.
4. Using data
One exciting new way that some hospitals are combating infection rates is through the use of computer-based data on software platforms, the Wall Street Journal reported. The software collects information about infection rates within a given institution and analyzes it to paint of picture of overall infection control efforts within a given hospital. The process also reveals areas that need improvement. For example, certain departments of a hospital may experience higher rates of HAIs than others. With this information hospital administrators can pay extra care to ensure that the infection disparities are dealt with and reduced.