There's been a lot of buzz in the healthcare world about healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) recently, and the unfortunate truth is that the frightening headlines and scary statistics aren't always all that overblown. Factors like an aging population, over-prescription of antibiotics and cross contamination by healthcare worker hands have led to increased antibiotic resistance and the spread of diseases throughout caregiver environments.
Not all the news is bad, though. Infection control specialists have begun to better understand how HAIs flow through caregiver environments and are developing protocols capable of letting us catch up with HAIs.
The following three factors are emerging as prime elements of a successful infection prevention and control program. By understanding them, you can determine the right steps to take to drastically reduce the spread of HAIs in your own healthcare environment.
1. Good Hand Hygiene
Simple hand hygiene activities like consistent, correct handwashing have proven tremendously successful in reducing the spread of what can be expensive-to-manage and extremely dangerous – even deadly – infections.
Some healthcare systems have begun to find that hand hygiene monitoring systems go a long way in ensuring compliance among staff. Denver Health Medical Center (DHMC), for instance, now utilizes a device in surgical wards, intensive care units, and step-down wards that tracks individual hand hygiene adherence via electronic badge. This device monitors metrics like the use of soap dispensers and waterless hand sanitizer dispensers to determine if people washed their hands 60 seconds before and after entering and leaving a room. This has increased adherence to basic hand hygiene protocol from 40 percent to 70 percent throughout the hospital.
2. Social Behavior Modification
Another recent study published in the American Journal of Infection Control explains what motivates clinical staff psychologically to focus on good hand hygiene.
The study found that the biggest motivator for getting healthcare workers to modify their behaviors and personally adopt protocols to reduce HAIs wasn’t new rules or policies, or even financial penalties. It said that, “... a desire to improve patient safety and clinical outcomes were the main motivators for healthcare workers toward reducing HAI.” It makes sense – healthcare workers are there because they care about the patients, and HAI reduction protocols are, essentially, there to keep patients safe.
3. Incorporation of Appropriate Technology
New high-tech solutions like DHMC's hand hygiene monitor are proving effective, but there are also plenty of tried and true hospital technologies that are effective in reducing the spread of HAIs, such as:
• Setting-Specific Tools: The tools that prevent the spread of disease through one environment may be inadequate for another. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) list of tools for healthcare settings offers a series of clear, simple-to-understand guidelines for which tools should be used in which care settings to protect staff and patients.
• Gloves: Properly-tested, properly-manufactured gloves (like the Ventyv™ line of high-quality hand protection products) are foundational to any infection prevention and control program.
• Eyewear: Caregivers need their eyes open to do their jobs, but the eyes offer an easy path for germs to invade the body. Correct eyewear usage is essential to protect caregivers.
• Apparel/Scrubs: Using the situation-appropriate clothing that can be discarded or kept in one place for disinfection prevents HAIs from being tracked out of the exam room.
Your Partner in Infection Prevention
The right hand hygiene protocols, the willingness to adopt them, and the right tools to support them can help stop HAIs in their tracks and Ventyv™ can help you make it happen by furnishing you with the high-quality hand protection products you need, and acting as your trusted source of information. As your partner in infection prevention, we can help you understand the creative ways other top caregivers are constructing next-level infection prevention programs, and empower you to do the same.