How to establish a system to mitigate hospital-acquired infections

Hospital-acquired infections continue to be an issue in health care settings. Despite the progress that’s been made to identify the common causes of the infections and prevent them from happening, they are still a frequent occurrence. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, on any given day, about one in 25 hospital patients has at least one of these types of infections.

Though the problem persists, there are steps hospitals can take to mitigate the issue. It requires discipline, communication and a concerted effort from all levels of hospital staff to reduce or eliminate hospital-acquired infections, but it can be done.

Smart Business spoke with Chris Dube, president of Sentact, about hospital-acquired infections and creating a system to address them.

What is the most recent trend as it relates to hospital-acquired infections? Is it getting better, worse, or staying about the same?

Hospital-acquired infections continue to be a focus for health care networks because of the vast number of infections that patients can acquire. For example, some of the top hospital-acquired infections are central line-associated bloodstream infections, surgical site infections, catheter-associated urinary tract infections and ventilator-associated infections. Given that infections such as these impact more than 750,000 patients every year, the trends are unfortunately remaining the same.

Where do hospitals typically go wrong in trying to address this problem?

Hospitals often do not have the resources, technology and expertise to correct the long-term problem of hospital-acquired infections. To begin to address the issue, hospitals must have a centralized effort from all areas, including facilities, care teams, doctors and nurses, as well as the tools to support these teams. When addressed properly, hospital-acquired infections in a hospital can drop by as much as 70 percent.

Does the risk tend to rise and fall with the time of year?

Hospital-acquired infections are not necessarily impacted by the time of the year. Rather, some of the key causes are poor handwashing techniques, poor insertion techniques, contamination of medical devices and the lack of proper protocols.

What’s the key to creating a system that is effective and fits into the daily workflow for those who work in the hospital?

Hospitals employ many different methods to prevent hospital-acquired infections. However, implementing a solution is often not enough.

To combat the rising threat of these infections, organizations need to ensure that all staff members adhered to the infection control processes. This is where rounding plays an important part in the process. Rounds can serve as checklists for a hospital’s infection control staff to ensure that hospital policies are followed.

The following are critical elements for hospitals to implement with rounding initiative:

  • Determine the frequency that works with your hospital based on its size and staffing levels.
  • Target surveillance and rounds on high-risk areas until improvement occurs.
  • Establish immediate notifications upon discovery of hospital-acquired infection-related problems so corrective actions can be taken immediately.
  • Immediately report issues to leadership so that corrective plans can be created and/or implemented. Communication should be transparent.
  • Create a process for areas of improvement that are discovered in order to fully correct the issues.

Automated rounding can address these critical elements to promote patient safety.

Implementing a rounding solution that focuses on hospital-acquired infections can reduce and eliminate them in an organization.

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