The Issue of Healthcare Infections
People are in hospitals to seek treatment, but unfortunately because of the nature of the environment they may end up with additional illnesses. Healthcare infections represent a significant challenge faced by not only hospitals but also doctors offices and other care facilities.
The CDC recently conducted a survey on healthcare-associated infections (HAI), and found that on any day in the U.S. about 1 in 25 hospital patients has at least one HAI. In 2011, there were about 722,000 of these infections in U.S. acute care hospitals, and the CDC’s research shows about 75,000 patients afflicted with healthcare-associated infections died during their time in the hospital.
As hospitals embark on a new year, they’re looking for ways to reduce the staggering number of healthcare-based infections, saving both lives and money in the process.
1. Educate Visitors
Much of the focus of hospitals’ efforts to reduce infections acquired in their facilities is on healthcare providers and patients, but visitors need to be educated thoroughly as well. It’s important to try and educate each visitor who walks in the doors of a hospital on things such as hand hygiene and taking advantage of the hand sanitizers or wipes often placed throughout facilities.
2. Assess Gaps in Knowledge
Many of your employees may not be adequately trained on best practices for avoiding the spread of infections. All staff members, from the maintenance and janitorial staff up to doctors and administrative staff members, should be assessed to gain a better understanding of their knowledge, and then custom training can be developed to address gaps.
3. Shorten Staff Shifts
Undeniably many hospitals face staff shortages, but every effort should be made to prevent doctors, nurses and other care providers from working very long shifts or working too many shifts in a week. The result can be mistakes that lead to the increased risk of infections spreading in the hospital, to patients, to staff, and visitors.
4. Focus on Communication
It’s not just staff knowledge or experience that can help prevent healthcare-associated infections—improved communication can also make a big impact. Teams should be trained to work with one another and consistently communicate in the most efficient ways possible to ensure nothing is being overlooked in the care process that could lead to an increased risk of infection.
5. Evaluate Waste Procedures
The handling of medical waste is one of the most crucial elements of preventing the spread of disease. While hospitals do invest in proper medical waste disposal, 2016 is the perfect time to evaluate or reevaluate those procedures and make sure there are no potential risks hidden in how the facility is handling such waste. If your facility isn’t already doing so, partnering with a medical waste treatment company can be a valuable way to avoid infections and make your hospital safer and more efficient.
Make 2016 a Year to Focus on Avoiding Preventable Infections
According to the World Health Organizations, healthcare-associated infections are the most frequently occurring adverse event in the delivery of healthcare throughout the world. It’s important to not only understand the impact of these infections but make significant steps toward eliminating them from your hospital or health care facility.