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How to Address the Recent Increase in Hospital Associated Infections (HAIs)

Jul 26, 2022 11:00:00 AM posted in Infection Prevention, Exam Gloves

National statistics showed progress from 2015 to 2019 in the reduction of common hospital-associated infections (HAIs) at U.S. health facilities. Unfortunately, the start of the pandemic in the U.S. in 2020 reversed this trend. Recently, there has been a significant increase in some  HAIs, especially those related to the use of medical devices.

The pandemic, with its variant surges, brings large influxes of patients to acute care facilities. The sickest COVID patients require longer stays in an intensive care unit and increased use of medical devices like ventilators, catheters and central lines. Ventilator use increased by an average of up to 30% during 2020, as compared to 2019. These factors  increase the risk of patients developing HAIs.

Some HAI rates are increasing, while others are decreasing

The National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN), the largest HAI surveillance system in the U.S., published a  report in 2021 summarizing data collected in the previous year. By comparing 2019 and 2020 statistics, the report revealed the average annual increase in the rate of medical device-related HAIs:

o   Catheter associated urinary tract infections (CAUTI)—up 2.6%

o   Ventilator associated events (VAE)—up 29.7%

o   Central-line-associated bloodstream infections (CLABSI)up 27.4%

o   Methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bloodstream infections—up 15.3%

Some HAI rates continued to decrease despite the pandemic. As noted in this CDC report, when COVID-19 first appeared, hospitals enhanced their established infection prevention procedures to minimize the spread of the virus within hospital settings. The NHSN report suggests these additional COVID precautions—such as increased environmental disinfection, diligent personal protection equipment (PPE) use, and better hand hygiene—may have helped decrease the rate of some HAIs in 2020:

o   Clostridioides difficile infections (CDIs or C. Diff)—down 10.5%

o   Colon surgical site infections (SSIs)—down 6.1%

o   Abdominal hysterectomy surgical site infections (SSIs)—down 7.3%

Making hand hygiene and infection prevention measures easy

Every worker providing direct patient care can benefit from reminders about hand hygiene and proper use of medical gloves. Visual prompts for infection prevention procedures can be incorporated seamlessly into the workflow. For example, installing hand sanitizer dispensers, exam glove dispensers, and trash cans at each entry/exit point of a patient treatment area reminds staff to sanitize their hands before putting on gloves and after removing them. If hand washing between patients is the facility’s protocol (especially after contact with C. diff patients), signage can be posted above the sink to remind staff and inform patients of this infection prevention measure. 

Of course, exam gloves and effective hand hygiene products (hand sanitizer or antibacterial soap) must be readily available at all times. Assigning a staff member on each shift with the responsibility of maintaining consumable supplies and refilling hand sanitizer and soap dispensers is the best way to make sure no workstation ever runs out. 

 Proper glove use reduces HAIs

Infection control only works when every member of frontline staff consistently and effectively takes part in infection prevention efforts. Research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows poor hand hygiene, direct skin-to-skin contact between healthcare provider and patient, and improper use of gloves  contribute to the spread of HAIs. Infection prevention protocols must include the following measures:

o   Sanitizing/washing hands before putting on medical gloves

o   Changing gloves after contact with body fluids or invasive medical devices

o   Changing gloves when they become visibly soiled, punctured or torn

o   Changing gloves when moving from a soiled body site to a clean site on the same patient

o   Changing gloves for each new patient

o   Avoiding touching a patient’s immediate environment to prevent cross-contamination of surfaces

o   Sanitizing/washing hands immediately after glove removal

Ventyv® brand medical gloves are the quality products and protection you need

Sri Trang USA offers a full line of Ventyv® brand disposable medical gloves to suit all your patient care needs. We are a leading global glove manufacturer that provides consistent, quality products to keep wearers and patients protected. Ventyv® products are saving lives every day by helping reduce the incidence of HAIs. Together, we can Outsmart Infection®.

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