The High Risk of Cold and Flu Season
Outpatient medical settings, and, in particular, pediatrician’s offices, can be a hazardous area for acquiring new infections. Patients may bring their children to the pediatrician’s office for a routine checkup, and then find that after leaving their child has acquired a new sickness or infection. This is especially true during cold and flu season.
Not only is stringent infection control necessary in pediatrician outpatient settings to protect patients and their families, but it’s also vital to keep office staff members health and well to remain productive.
Infection control can present particular challenges for doctor’s office because they may be limited in space and resources that larger organizations, like hospitals, may be able to take advantage of. Limited space and infection control procedures can severely hamper the ability to control germs and viruses unless there are particular policies and protocols put in place and rigidly followed.
Here are 5 ways pediatrician outpatient offices can keep their patients, families and staff healthy, even as we’re in the height of flu season:
- Create Written Procedures and Policies
Your pediatrician office may have informal policies in place regarding infection control, but it’s best to create written guidelines which employees are trained to follow. You may also want to post written reminders of these policies throughout the office in case staff members forget.
- Consider Segmenting Appointment Times
One of the big ways infections and viruses spread in outpatient settings is in the waiting room when non-sick patients who are there for wellness check-ups are in close quarters with patients who are ill. Pediatrician’s offices may think about keeping appointment times separate, with limited hours each day set aside for sick patients. This is a good way to keep sick and well patients separate, even if you don’t have a space large enough to accommodate two waiting rooms.
- Hold Regular Education Sessions
You likely train employees on infection control when they’re initially hired, but to ensure your pediatrician practice remains as safe and healthy as possible, it’s advisable to hold regular education sessions and refreshers, particularly as you approach the start of cold and flu season.
- Practice Proper Waste Management
Many smaller outpatient offices and pediatricians’ facilities may not always follow proper medical waste management protocol. They might feel like they don’t have the budget or the resources to dispose of all waste, protective gear, and other potentially hazardous materials in the same ways as a larger organization, like a hospital, but waste management is just as important to small offices as to larger facilities. Along with medical waste, segment items can carry potential infections. For example, ask parents to put toys that have been played with in the waiting room in a separate bin when their children are finished so they can be disinfected.
- Educate Patients
As well as putting staff policies in place, it’s wise to educate patients on how to protect against infections while they’re in the office. Clearly placed signs and distributed hand sanitizer can go a long way in keeping everyone healthy.
A Healthier 2016
Pediatricians’ offices are centers of wellness on which parents and children rely, particularly during the winter months when germs and viruses are rampant. Encourage everyone from staff to parents to remain vigilant in preventing the spread of illnesses through the use of the simple tips listed above.