For healthcare settings of any kind, the safety and well-being of patients goes far beyond medical treatments. While your medical providers and technology may be the best of the best, the physical environment that you’re creating for your patients is equally — if not more — important when it comes to keeping your patient populations safe and healthy.
Consideration of your environmental factors, such as air quality, is critical during normal operations, but exponentially more when your medical center or hospital is in the midst of construction, renovation, or maintenance activities. When these disruptions throw off typical routines, facility managers must take extra care to face the unique challenge of maintaining clean air with the presence of extra potentially harmful dust and airborne particles. Dust and debris that are kicked up from construction activities can harbor harmful bacteria and viruses, causing the potential for irritation, infection, and the spread of disease.
Thankfully, the Infection Control Risk Assessment (ICRA) standards serve as a crucial guide for healthcare teams during construction or renovation projects, ensuring patient safety is not compromised. This year, make sure that you’re up to date on the latest ICRA 2024 guidelines and procedures to maintain the safest environment possible for your hospital’s patients and staff.
Safety First: Prepare for Construction With ICRA 2024 Guidelines
A fundamental step in planning for upcoming construction or renovation projects within your healthcare facility is to implement ICRA standards. An infection control officer typically spearheads this and can make a huge impact on the compliance of your facility through disruptive construction. This individual leads a dedicated team responsible for conducting thorough risk assessments and establishing preventative measures outlined in the ICRA matrix. The aim is to develop a comprehensive plan that takes all of the medical center’s stakeholder interests into consideration — facility managers, medical staff, and administrative teams — to uphold the highest safety standards for all patients, particularly those at heightened risk.
The Evolution of ICRA 2.0 Standards: Continued Protection 2024
Over the last year, ICRA has continued to advance and improve, providing healthcare facilities around the globe with significant updates. From the previous version of the ICRA matrix and guidelines, ICRA 2.0 aimed to reduce ambiguity and provide resources for facility managers to more easily make informed decisions about keeping their facilities safe. ICRA 2.0 expands on the covered actions, now including routine maintenance activities and smaller interruptions. These changes will help to ensure that even projects like fan shutdowns or flooring installations are held to a high standard of safety.
ICRA 2.0 also introduces an essential step: assessing the impact of construction activities on surrounding areas. This new element of the assessment covers not only dust and air quality concerns like the original ICRA matrix, but also factors like noise, vibration, and the impact on critical systems, including data, mechanical, and medical gas systems. The updated version includes tailored mitigation strategies, allowing each healthcare center to select the approach that best aligns with their unique situation and project.
Decoding ICRA Classes: Safety Measures for Every Scenario
In order to offer the best possible protection for a variety of construction activities and facility types, ICRA designates four classes of project: I, II, III, IV, and V. Each class is considered riskier than the last, and the precautions to be taken at each level ramp up in their intensity.
Managing Class V Construction
When it comes to your most invasive and potentially disruptive construction activities, referred to in the ICRA 2.0 guidelines as a Class V Project, you’re going to want to take the most intense precautions to keep your facility safe and healthy throughout the process.
For example, the ICRA 2024 guidelines detail that a containment barrier is a necessity for these high-risk projects in order to comply with the 241 requirements from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Beyond just separating the affected construction areas for fire code reasons, these barriers allow your facility to make use of negative air machines and create a negative air pressure situation, which is also an ICRA requirement. From here, facility managers should keep track of a visual pressure indicator as well as ensure the air is filtered through a High-efficiency Particulate Air, or HEPA, filter or directed outdoors. Similarly, ICRA dictates that facilities use an anteroom setup that is large enough for necessary activities to keep the area separate like equipment staging and cleaning processes.
Proactive Planning with ICRA 2024: Beyond Compliance
Putting an effective ICRA plan into action is crucial for more than just complying with established rules and standards — it's really about keeping your patients safe and healthy to the best of your ability. By completing an ICRA assessment, your healthcare facility can limit the impact of construction and renovation work. Especially for patients who are already at high risk, these guidelines will make a major difference in your facility’s readiness to take on any maintenance or construction projects that arise.
Boost Your Construction and Renovation Preparedness Today
The best first step to take is to make sure everyone on your team understands how important ICRA standards are for patient safety. Once your team is all on the same page, you can begin to look at how you currently operate, as well as the tools you use, keeping a focus on making sure everyone stays safe and healthy.
Looking to improve your facility’s ICRA compliance today? Look no further — our comprehensive guide provides you with all of the information you need to better understand the guidelines as well as implement them effectively in your medical center. Download your copy today.