Archive for: Infection Control

Sign up for our July 14 GI Scopes webinar!

By: June 17th, 2015 Email This Post Print This Post

Endoscopes and other diagnostic GI scopes are crucial devices that can save the lives of the nearly 500,000 patients every year who need the procedures they were designed for.

But if they aren’t properly cleaned and disinfected afterwards, the instruments can expose future patients to antibiotic-resistant diseases such as carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, or CRE, that can kill up to 50% of infected patients, according to some experts.

You’ve heard the horror stories from hospitals who have dealt with recent outbreaks—don’t let your facility be the next statistic. Let infection control experts Peggy Prinz Luebbert, MS, (MT)ASCP, CIC, CHSP, CBSPD, and Terry Micheels, MSN, RN, CIC, show you everything your organization needs to know to ensure proper GI scope disinfection and protect the lives of your patients.

Register for “Proper GI Scope Disinfection: How to Avoid Becoming a Statistic,” a 90-minute webcast that will cover the critical steps of high-level disinfection that must be met each and every day. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to ensure your organization complies with requirements set by The Joint Commission and CMS.

For more information or to register, check out the HCPro Marketplace.

Is OSHA being sneaky?

By: June 4th, 2015 Email This Post Print This Post

Hi folks –

Boy, it’s fun to watch how sneaky OSHA can be. If you’ve been paying attention, you know that the agency has quietly passed changes to a few pretty important rules in the healthcare industry.

First, there was an upgrade to the Workplace Violence Prevention rule (3148), which basically is a rule that requires employers to have a plan in place. There was also a very well-done manual that went with it to help you out.

Then, in May, OSHA and NIOSH teamed up to provide a Respiratory Protection Toolkit for employers, which essentially is a warning that if you don’t already use respirators to help protect your workers against infections, you better start. And here’s the handy toolkit published to help you out:

https://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3767.pdf

I don’t doubt that these are great things. We all want a safer work environment. But what’s going on here? Well, in the opinion of one lawyer who I read in an online blog:

“The bottom line is that OSHA is coming. Accordingly, employers in the health care industry should act now to ensure that their employees are working in the safest possible conditions and that, when OSHA appears at their door, they can demonstrate their commitment to employee health and safety.”

Interestingly, the Joint Commission is taking note of these changes, and has issued their own recommendations right about the same time that OSHA is doing so.

I’d like to know what you think. Is OSHA about to get tough on the healthcare industry? Good luck getting them to say so.

The feeling out there is that OSHA doesn’t have enough inspectors, so they probably won’t inspect. Will that change? And will you do anything different in your job because of it?

Please drop me a line and let me know your opinions.

Thanks!

John Palmer

C. diff infections linked to medical clinics

By: May 20th, 2015 Email This Post Print This Post

A February 25 report from the CDC suggests that the prevalence of Clostridium difficile, or C. diff, a bacterial infection of the gastrointestinal system primarily found in hospitals, is much higher than once thought, affecting up to half a million people annually.

Perhaps even more disturbing is the study’s revelation that up to 150,000 people who had not previously been in the hospital came down with C. diff in 2011. Of those, about 80% had visited a doctor’s or dentist’s office in the 12 weeks before their diagnosis. CDC officials say the revelation is so concerning that they’re starting a series of “case control studies” to try to assess nationally whether people are getting C. diff in medical offices.

If you’re a safety professional or someone in charge of infection control at a medical clinic, by now you’re asking yourself what you can do to help reduce the risk of an outbreak of C. diff. Our safety experts have shared a list of things you can do to prepare.

Know your audience. Not all medical clinics are the same, and therefore neither will your patients. In order to know what your risk is, it helps to do an assessment. A gastroenterologist’s office, for example, is more likely to have a higher likelihood that a patient with C. diff could walk through the doors, says McDonald. Also, do your patients have ties to local hospitals—that is, are they likely to have been in a hospital recently, and maybe they are visiting you as a follow up? That’s an immediate red flag.

Ask the tough questions. You’ve heard this one before: in order to know who’s coming through your doors, you have to ask what they have. Ideally, this is done on the phone when making an appointment for the patient. Have they been hospitalized recently? Are they experiencing diarrhea? Are they on antibiotics or other medication? These questions can help you assess the situation very quickly, and too often intake procedures are lacking in thoroughness.

Schedule wisely. This is where having this advance notification can be handy. While you can’t necessarily turn away patients who may be a C. diff hazard, you can try to keep them away from other patients. These patients can be scheduled as the first or last appointment of the day, and extra precautions can be taken to make sure the room is wiped down afterwards and any staff seeing these patients should take care to wear proper PPE, such masks and gloves. Even better, have someone go through the patient treatment rooms several times a day disinfecting high-tough areas.

Use the proper disinfectant. That being said, you can’t use just any household cleaner and expect it to kill C. diff. Proper procedures include using a sporicidal disinfectant approved by the EPA, not Lysol or another household disinfectant found on the shelves at Home Depot. Another thing to consider is contact time indicated by the manufacturer of cleaning solutions. If it says to keep it wet for two minutes, it has to stay wet for two minutes or it won’t be as effective. Also, if you have disinfectant wipes in a container that is left open the wipes can dry out and won’t keep the surface wet.

Assume everything is infected. You may think your infection control is, well, under control. Sure, maybe you do a good job of treating surfaces in your patient care areas. But take a walk around your waiting room and you’ll see carpets, upholstered couches, water dispensers, and magazines that can easily be contaminated with C. diff spores from a patient—some of which are not easily wiped down and cleaned.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t make your clinic look presentable, but you should definitely be wiping down everything that is considered high-touch—rails, doorknobs, faucets in the bathroom, books in the waiting area.

 

Guest Column: Be Personally Protected

By: July 8th, 2014 Email This Post Print This Post

The following is an occasional series of guest blogs by experts in the medical clinic safety field. If you would like to be featured in this blog as a guest columnist, please email Managing Editor of Safety John Palmer at jpalmer@hcpro.com.

In some laboratories, the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) may be confusing to staff. However, a look at OSHA’s Bloodborne Pathogens and Chemical Hygiene Standards should make clear the requirements for proper PPE selection and use.

Both standards speak clearly to the necessity of PPE when working in the laboratory. Different PPE is needed for different tasks. Lab coats are always necessary in the lab for protection against blood and body fluid splashes or chemical splashes. Plastic aprons may also be used as extra protection in areas where gross tissue work is performed. Lab coats should be buttoned, the sleeves should not be rolled up, and they should be knee-length.

Gloves are needed when handling blood, body fluids, or chemicals, but different gloves may be used for different tasks. Many labs are turning away from using latex gloves because of allergic reactions by staff. Nitrile gloves have become the norm in recent years. However, make sure you have the correct gloves for the duties being performed. Some manufacturers make nitrile gloves that act as a barrier against blood and body fluids, but they do not provide protection against chemicals.  While these will be fine while running a CBC in hematology, they won’t provide enough protection when changing the stainer. Be sure to use chemical-resistant gloves for this and other tasks (gram stains, handling chemistry reagents, pouring acids, etc.). Check the package if you are not sure about the proper use of gloves.

Goggles or face protection is important PPE that is widely under-utilized. Do you carry open specimens in the lab? What about carrying a rack of specimen tubes to or from an analyzer? That is a task that creates a risk for exposure, and face protection should be used. Are you pouring a chemical? Protection is necessary. Help your staff avoid all exposures to the eyes or mucous membranes.

The OSHA standards mentioned above also require that PPE is removed before leaving the laboratory. Do not wear lab coats or gloves to another location outside the laboratory. Does a procedure need to be performed in another area that requires PPE? If so, bring fresh PPE with you for use in the treatment area and dispose of it before returning to the lab.

In a laboratory, all areas should be considered hazardous, bio-hazardous, or contaminated. Do you have a desk area in the lab where only paperwork is done? I have always said that if there is an area in the lab where there are no patient specimens or chemicals, then one could consider the area “clean.” However, that does not mean that food or drink can be consumed there or that no PPE is needed. Remember, you are still in the walls of a laboratory, and accidents may occur. It is acceptable to label the area as “clean” so that gloves are not needed for the computer or phone, but a lab coat would still be required.

Remember, if an OSHA inspector arrives, he will be looking to see that all aspects of safety regulations are being followed. Keep your employees safe and keep your facility from unnecessary fines by using PPE where and whenever needed.

Dan Scungio, MT (ASCP), SLS, also known as “Dan the Lab Safety Man,” is a Laboratory Safety Officer for Sentara Healthcare, a multi-hospital system in the Tidewater region of Virginia.

Robot disinfects hospital rooms with a touch of a button

By: March 4th, 2013 Email This Post Print This Post

Imagine if you could hit a button and have a patient room disinfected within 10 minutes? Thanks to Mark Stibich, a Texas-based epidemiologist, that concept has become a reality. Stibich co-founded Xenex Healthcare Services and developed a germ-fighting robot that uses UV light to kill viruses, bacteria, and spores.

More than 100 hospitals have purchased or rented the robots, and for good reason. Studies have found that the robot cuts bacterial contamination by a factor of 20 and kills more than 75% of the pathogen C. difficile. Stibich told BusinessWeek that he got the idea to sanitize hospital rooms with UV light several years ago while working in Russia, where he learned that a UV lamp was being used to kill airborne tuberculosis germs.

To use the robot, hospital housekeepers simply wheel it into the room, close the door, and use a remote to operate it. Each robot costs $125,000 or a monthly fee of $3,700. While it seems pricey, the average cost of a hospital-acquired infection can be close to $30,000, making the robot a worthwhile investment. Stibich notes that the robots can be used in staff areas as well as patient rooms, adding to their value in creating a safe hospital environment.

Certification of infection preventionists could yield better practices

By: February 20th, 2013 Email This Post Print This Post

Hospital infection preventionists (IP) are generally in agreement as to which practices have strong or weak evidence to support their use, with those IPs certified in infection prevention and control perceiving evidence as strong more often than non-certified IPs, according to a study published recently in the American Journal of Infection Control. Researchers of the VA Ann Arbor & University of Michigan Medical School conducted the study as a means of understanding how those who lead infections prevention activities perceive the strength of evidence supporting practices designed to prevent device- and procedure-associated infections. IPs lead programs to protect patients and healthcare workers alike.

Of the 28 practices included in the study, alcohol-based hand rub, aseptic urinary catheter insertion, and semi-recumbent positioning of patients on ventilators were among those practices perceived to have strong evidence to support their use, according to 90% of respondents. Practices identified as having weak evidence included central catheter changes, the use of silver-coated endotracheal tubes for ventilator-associated pneumonia, and the use of antimicrobials in the urinary catheter drainage bag.

According to researchers, the study’s results suggest that certified IPs may lead to greater evidence-based practice, which would in turn lead to a reduction of healthcare-associated infections and hospital costs.

Does your organization encourage certification for infection preventionists? Do you feel that certification is a necessary step for IPs? Share in the comments sections below.

Poll: Hand washing in healthcare settings

By: January 23rd, 2013 Email This Post Print This Post

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey, the world’s leading questionnaire tool.

State advises 8,000 dental patients to be tested for hepatitis, HIV

By: July 24th, 2012 Email This Post Print This Post

An investigation by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment indicates that as many as 8,000 dental patients may have been exposed to bloodborne pathogens from unsafe injection practices.

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Should Fed funding for patient safety go bye-bye?

By: July 23rd, 2012 Email This Post Print This Post

A House subcommittee, on July 18, voted to eliminate all funding for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

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Oregon’s hospitals report HAI prevention success

By: July 17th, 2012 Email This Post Print This Post

The fight against healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) by Oregon hospitals has yielded impressive results in decreased infection rates and potential cost savings, according to a July 17 announcement from the CDC.

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Mercy! Time to consider risk of MRSA from unsafe injections

By: July 17th, 2012 Email This Post Print This Post

Move over hepatitis B, C, and HIV, and make room for MRSA infections as a consequence of unsafe injection practices.

A July 16 post on the CDC Safe Healthcare blog by Dr. Michael Bell, associate director for infection control at the Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion, discusses two recent outbreaks in Arizona and Delaware where the use of medication from single-dose/single-use vials for multiple patients resulted in “staph/MRSA infections in at least 10 patients receiving injections for pain relief.”

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Ask the expert: Healthcare worker TB exposure

By: July 16th, 2012 Email This Post Print This Post

Q: A patient seen by our practice has recently tested positive for tuberculosis and is undergoing treatment.  From an OSHA perspective, what follow-up treatment do we need to do for employees who were exposed to him?

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