HAIs continue to challenge healthcare facilities.

Preventing Infection

4 Ways to Combat Healthcare-Associated Infections

“HAI prevention hinges on successful adherence to best practices over the long haul, and longitudinal surveillance by IP programs reminds clinicians and administrators not to let down their guard."

Healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) remain a big threat to patient safety and cost the U.S. healthcare system billions of dollars annually, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

On any given day, about one in every 31 hospital patients has at least one HAI, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Yet most are preventable.

A four-pronged approach to infection prevention takes aim at slowing HAIs, which have ceased years of steady decline due to the global pandemic.

“HAI prevention hinges on successful adherence to best practices over the long haul, and longitudinal surveillance by IP programs reminds clinicians and administrators not to let down their guard,” write Dr. Alison Galdys and others in Infection Control Today.

Four Areas For Infection Prevention Improvement

The National Steering Committee for Patient Safety (NSC) recently published: ”Safer Together: A National Action Plan to Advance Patient Safety," which identified four areas to drive improvement in infection prevention. They were: culture, leadership and governance, patient and family engagement, workforce safety and learning systems. Among the recommendations:

  • Maintain diverse educational backgrounds among infection preventionists (IPs) to ensure a range of clinical expertise. Extend training beyond acute hospital settings to outpatient settings as care increasingly shifts to those areas.
  • Educate patients and families on hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette and other areas that can aid infection prevention.
  • Promote healthcare worker safety as a key element in workforce safety. Prevent infection in patients to reduce risk of exposure for staff members.
  • Use knowledge of what drives HAIs to help pinpoint where particular factors reside on the prevention continuum. Share data with other IPs to advance knowledge for all.

While the NSC action plan does not specifically address endoscopy, HAIs have been shown to occur in endoscopy patients. Contaminated endoscopes are associated with more infections than any other medical device.

Reusable flexible bronchoscopes were singled out as a source of multiple infection outbreaks and pseudo-outbreaks in a recent literature review. That analysis, published in the European Respiratory Journal, found a 10 percent HAI risk after patient contamination that was introduced by a bronchoscope.

Single-use bronchoscopes eliminate that infection risk since they are sterile straight from the package.

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