By Sheila Gerald, RN, CIC, CLNC
The average person trembles with fear when he or she hears the word staph or MRSA, and most healthcare workers are sick of multiple drug resistant organisms (MDROs) making their daily service more challenging.
Many infection control experts will agree that MDROs have rocked our world for the past 10 years in dramatic ways. We now have to use resources for increased compliance monitoring, surveillance, and tracking. And let’s not forget about the increased need for education. How many times must we say “gel in-gel out,” “glove/gown each time,” only to get those phone calls over and over reporting it not being done?
I have a question: Why haven’t hospitals addressed this problem? Why not simply tell the public, “No, you can’t bring that child in to visit,” “No, you can’t go in the room without a gown/glove/mask,” “No, you can’t come in if you are sick,” and “No, we won’t do your surgery until you have your blood sugar under control, have lost weight, and have stopped smoking,” which all increase the risk of a poor outcome. Can you imagine the outcry from the public if we put our foot down, instead of catering to the general public’s desire to be in control?
Would we truly see some dramatic improvements if the Healthcare Infection Control Practice Advisory Committee (HICPAC)  came out with stern guidelines making contact precautions the new standard precautions? After all, when you start checking for colonization you wind up putting the majority of people who are admitted under the contact precautions umbrella. How much would we save in resources if we just put all admitted patients in precautions and forego the screening? Yes, the studies have shown these people get seen less often, but what if it became the norm to gown and glove upon entry to every room and continue the hand hygiene before and after contact with the environment of care?
I think it is time to change our norm and stop whining and moaning about it. Our germ cheese has been moved and we have hemmed and hawed long enough! If we are to survive and if we expect our patients to survive this germ war, we must change the way we practice healthcare.
How do you feel about current infection control practices? What changes would you make?