While infection control is certainly not the only responsibility you have as a facilities manager, it’s a critical one. In 2011, there were more than 700,000 hospital acquired infections (HAIs) in U.S. acute care hospitals, including pneumonia bloodstream infections, and gastrointestinal illnesses.
Most HAIs are preventable, which means that its the job of facilities manager to work with clinical staff to make sure you are doing everything necessary to prevent them.
If you’re a facilities manager concerned about infection control, Infection Control for Facilities Managers: The Complete Guide is a must read.
To help you reassess your own infection control policies, we’ve collected some of the most useful infection control tips from our previous blog posts, and added a few new ones.
1. Designate an Infection Control Owner
Without one person in charge of infection control procedures, it is nearly impossible to monitor those procedures. Designating an infection control ‘owner’ does not mean that this individual must complete every infection control task themselves, rather it means that they will need to keep track of what has been done and what needs to be done, then delegate those tasks to the proper parties, and follow up on their completion. By giving someone ownership over infection control monitoring, you significantly increase your facility’s chances of staying compliant.
2. But Get the Whole Team On Board
Whether you or another individual is given ownership of infection control at your facility, you need everyone’s cooperation to make an infection control policy stick. Be sure that you have buy-in from your entire team on the importance of infection control and the goals you have for your facility. Which brings us to our next tip...
3. Publicly State Your Infection Control Goals
In order to improve your infection control training and to achieve buy-in from hospital stakeholders, it is important to have concrete goals in place. While you cannot measure how many infections you prevent, you can set goals about your treatment plans, best practices and following protocol. Stating those publicly where anyone working or admitted to the hospital can access them can be a major momentum changer for infection control.
4. Training is Critical
If you expect to reach your infection control and prevention goals, you have to know which practices to follow and keep up to date on infection control technologies. Your infection control officer should be utilizing the many resources available to him or her to stay current, and then organizing internal infection control trainings that are specific to your facility.
5. Dedicate the Necessary Resources
Like any other facility processes, infection control needs resources not only to implement but also to monitor. The right infection control procedures can literally save lives, which means it should not fall to the bottom of your priority list as a facilities manager. Dedicate the necessary resources to the process, including time and money, and you will find that it is a worthwhile investment.
6. Invest in the Right Technology
In recent years, infection control technology has exploded. From UV disinfection to portable dust containment units, there is a wide range of options for facilities that want to improve their infection control process. Keep yourself aware of what technology is available and make choices that suit your facility. You don’t have to buy every piece of equipment that’s available, just those that are proven to work and will fill a gap in your current protocol.
7. Don’t Skip the Small Things
Investing in the best possible infection control technology is an important step, but you will never reach your infection prevention goals if you ignore the small things in favor of what’s shiny and new. The fact remains that simple activities like regular, thorough hand washing are still the best tool for preventing HAIs. Make sure that your staff and facility know just how important these small steps are.
8. Consider Running an Awareness Campaign
The Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) offers infection control tips for running a hospital-wide campaign designed to minimize nosocomial infections as well as other avoidable harm and diseases. Whether you choose to use the IHI guidelines or spearhead your own campaign, this is a great way to drum up support from staff to learn more and practice better infection control.
9. Keep Vaccinations Up to Date
The staff at a hospital -- from physicians and nurses to facilities staff -- can spread infections to patients far too easily. It is essential that all hospital personnel keep their vaccinations up to date in order to minimize not just their own exposure, but that of compromised patients.
10. Never Stop Learning
Perhaps most important in ensuring that infection control protocols are in place and are doing the job required of them is to stay vigilant. Infection control personnel, whether they are hospital employees or contractors, must stay educated on what is available so that they can continually monitor and update their infection control practices.