One of the models of healthcare that is growing most quickly and becoming more popular is the ambulatory clinic. Many times large hospitals or health care networks will introduce ambulatory clinics or offices as a way to provide faster, more efficient care while reducing costs.
There are quite a few different ambulatory care settings, which include urgent care clinics, emergency departments independent of larger hospitals, and retail clinics.
While the benefits of ambulatory settings can be significant when it comes to keeping costs low for companies and patients, and also for providing care for more people with increased efficiency, it’s a model that isn’t without challenges.
There has been an increased focus by the CDC to help ambulatory clinics and facilities to develop proper protocols and procedures to keep them as safe as conventional hospitals.
The following are some tips for ambulatory care centers to maintain infection control standards that keep care providers and patients safe.
Allocate Proper Resources
In a traditional hospital setting, a significant amount of resources both regarding budgets and personnel, go toward infection control. The same should be true of ambulatory care clinics and settings.
An administrative or managerial professional should also be in charge of creating policies and standards, as well as making sure that not only precautions are followed, but also that the required supplies and equipment are on hand to prevent the spread of infection. This can include things like personal protective equipment and other hygiene supplies.
Train All Employees
In an ambulatory setting, it’s a good idea to provide all employees with some level of training about infection control.
Then, beyond general safety and hygiene training, it can also be advisable to provide job-specific training on infection control and prevention standards as well.
For employees that are already trained, it can be a good rule of thumb to implement regular retraining on an annual or semi-annual basis.
Provide Guidance for Patients
Many times people visit ambulatory clinics and care environments and ultimately are exposed to infections simply from being there and being around sick people.
It’s important that as part of any infection control plan, ambulatory administrators provide the necessary reminders not just to staff, but also to patients. This can include signage that’s clear and easy to read, and if necessary, provided in multiple languages.
This can instruct patients on things such as respiratory hygiene measures and hand sanitizing that can take place to protect themselves and others against the spread of infection.
As a final note, when you are in charge of operations in an ambulatory clinic, it can be valuable to contract a professional medical waste management company to provide not only compliant management of medical and hazardous waste but also to deliver training and relevant information to employees.
Look for a medical waste company that can specifically address the needs of your ambulatory clinic, based on size and scope of service, and also one that offers options such as OSHA Bloodborne Pathogen and Medical Waste Management Procedures training.