Quick Tips about Disease Prevention in Healthcare Facilities
Despite efforts in the past decade to research the causes of healthcare-associated infections (HAIs), 5-10 percent of hospital patients in the US will be affected by at least one infection every year. HAIs cause approximately 99,000 deaths and $20 billion in healthcare costs, creating a staggering public health problem that many healthcare facilities are still figuring out how to address. But the most effective methods of infection control and disease prevention are not necessarily the most innovative; here are some easy-to-implement quick tips for disease prevention in healthcare facilities.
- Adhere to hand-washing procedures. The most commonly repeated disease prevention measure may also be the most effective: a strict, comprehensive policy for hand-washing for all healthcare and facility staff. Follow best practices like washing hands before and after eating, patient contact, using the restroom, touching face or clothes, and using technology.
- Put someone in charge of disease prevention. While the person in charge of disease prevention and infection control doesn’t have to do everything, they should be the one coordinating all policies and efforts to ensure compliance and thoroughness.
- Consider a bare below the elbow policy. While bare below the elbow policies have not been studied extensively, many healthcare facilities are adopting them based on logical deduction. Requiring staff to eliminate long sleeves, watches, rings, bracelets, and ties can reduce contact between clothing and contaminated surfaces.
- Be conscientious about antimicrobial usage. From cleaning supplies to antibiotic treatments, antimicrobials can be found everywhere in a healthcare facility, but research suggests that maybe they shouldn’t be. Use antimicrobials selectively to slow down quickly evolving resistances.
- Monitor potential outside contaminants. Hospital visitors, remodeling or construction sites, and even flowers or outside food can be potential hazards. Determine the best course of action for your facility and patients, as restriction of outside contaminants may be necessary in some cases.
- Evaluate infection control protocols regularly. As more research is conducted about HAIs, it’s vital to review protocols and update them regularly. In addition, if infection control technology is present in the facility, keep track of the need for maintenance, upgrades, and new tech as protocols change.
- Keep up-to-date on vaccinations. Certain patients in acute and long-term care facilities may not be able to receive vaccinations, so it’s important that all staff stays protected.
- Clean areas that may go unnoticed. Patient care rooms and waiting areas may receive careful attention from facilities management staff, but there are certain spaces and objects that go under the radar. Be sure your cleaning program is comprehensive.
- Train and update all facility staff. Keep all staff up-to-date on the latest disease prevention news and research, as well as training on the facility’s procedures.
- Keep patients, caretakers, and visitors informed. Ensure that everyone who walks through the facility’s doors is aware of disease prevention measures that are being taken. The more people making an effort to prevent HAIs, the fewer instances will occur.
Disease prevention is a critical endeavor in healthcare facilities, but it doesn’t have to be a burden. Implement these practices in your facility, and always continue to learn about preventing disease and infection in healthcare.