Erica Mitchell

Recent Posts

4 Critical Steps on the Path to Zero Harm

by Erica Mitchell | August 11 2021

In earlier posts we discussed three major innovations that led to the formalization of infection control. Now we'll see what four elements make up a hospital's infection control strategy.

1. Hand hygiene

Remember poor Dr. Semmelweiss? If he lived today, he would be glad to see that hand hygiene finally receives the recognition it deserves. However, it just might push him over the edge to learn that, on average, doctors still only wash their hands 50% of the time between patients. Hand-washing campaigns do much to remind staff, but research shows that efforts must be on-going rather than short-term "events." It is important for patients and visitors to maintain hand hygiene as well as the general public. No special techniques or soaps are required - just regular soap and water for 20 seconds, making sure to clean between fingers. Oh, and drying them properly after you wash is also important: Using paper towels is the best way to remove bacteria (hot-air dryers actually increase bacterial levels by spraying them around the environment.)

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What Does Science Say About Masks In School? (It Says Wear Them)

by Erica Mitchell | August 6 2021

There are many headlines these days about the controversies surrounding re-opening schools with mask mandates. Some states are taking a surprising turn to ban mask mandates, leaving mask wearing up to parents. Most states are following the guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Academy of American Pediatrics (AAP) and requiring students and staff to wear masks in school. This kind of "controversy" can make us doubt our information sources and question who we can trust. In today's post, we'll look at what the science says. (Spoiler: It says kids should wear masks in school.)


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The Patient and HAIs: Impact and Engagement

by Erica Mitchell | August 4 2021

Two interesting studies examine the patient's perspective in hospital acquired infections. The patient experience happens to be an overlooked area in research, despite the valuable insights that these individuals can provide. In today's post, we'll look at what these two important studies reveal about the patient's personal experience and how to engage the patient more in HAI research.

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The Box That Could Identify the Next Pandemic

by Erica Mitchell | August 2 2021

There is a newly released book that has risen quickly to top the best-sellers lists that is telling many unknown stories about the public health setting leading up to the COVID-19 pandemic. Aptly named, The Premonition highlights key figures in the research and policy that set the stage for our global and national response. Through these personal stories, author Michael Lewis gives readers insights into the many early warnings - the premonitions - that a major viral outbreak was about to change our lives for a long time. One such story highlights a tool that will invariably help us detect the next outbreak. In today's post, we'll learn about that technology and the steps being taken to make bioinformatics an early warning system.

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Hospital Acquired Conditions vs. Hospital Acquired Infections: The Differences

by Erica Mitchell | July 28 2021

In the world of healthcare, there are so many acronyms (and some might say, euphemisms) for the deadly toll of medical errors and infections. Two such terms are HACs and HAIs. Today we'll explore the difference between the two, both in terms of what conditions they cover and how they are regulated and reported.

Last week we discussed Preventable Adverse Events, those medical errors deemed avoidable (and not necessarily the result of negligence). This is a way of referring to medical errors in a broad way that can include errors in medications, procedures, caretaking, and safety. 

There are also Hospital-Acquired Conditions (HACs) and Hospital-Acquired Infections (HAIs). HAIs are one example of a HAC, but not the only one. Let's explore how these terms fit into the big picture. 

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The Delta Variant: 5 Things To Know

by Erica Mitchell | July 26 2021

Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have covered the issue of variants, virus mutations that affect the way SARS-CoV-2 moves around the globe and causes disease. One particular mutation, the delta variant, has been named a "variant of concern" by the CDC, and now accounts for upwards of 83% of new COVID-19 cases in the United States. In today's post, we'll cover 5 topics about the delta variant, providing you with some new and interesting facts about the variant that is in all the headlines.

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What is a Preventable Adverse Event?

by Erica Mitchell | July 21 2021

Medical students have made the same promise since the dawn of health care: First, do no harm. Despite living by this maxim, medical staff are human. While they are held to extremely high standards - both by their employers and by themselves - these professionals do make mistakes.

The quick definition of a preventable adverse event is harm to a patient caused by their medical care rather than their underlying medical issue (disease, illness, injury). These medical errors are often referred to as "preventable adverse events," a broad term that can be explored by looking at those three key words.

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How The Tokyo Olympics Are Controlling COVID

by Erica Mitchell | July 19 2021

Global events have a long history of impacting the Olympic Games. World wars have cancelled the modern Olympic games three times, political boycotts have affected some nations several times, and concerns over disease (both human and equine) have affected where and when these world-class athletes could compete. The 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, however, represent the first time the events have been postponed in modern history. Now the world's top athletes are preparing to compete amidst concerns that SARS-CoV-2 is still circulating, presenting issues to the host country as well as the travelling athletes. How are the Olympics handling the pandemic? In today's post, we'll describe some of the steps Japan is taking to keep their country and the thousands of visitors safe and healthy.

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5 Things You Can Do To Avoid A Hospital-Acquired Infection

by Erica Mitchell | July 14 2021

The idea of going to the hospital can be scary enough without even thinking of the possibility of getting a hospital-acquired infection (HAI). However, there are a few things you can do to reduce your risk of getting an infection while recovering in a hospital or other healthcare facility, especially when you are being admitted for a planned procedure with advance notice. These are 5 quick steps you can take to help you and your health care team.

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The Fastest Epidemiologist in the World?

by Erica Mitchell | July 12 2021

The Tokyo Olympics are just around the corner, with massive logistics being put in place to make sure the athletic even doesn't become a COVID super-spreader event. Epidemiologists are working around the clock to make sure that athletes and their teams are safe and healthy. But one epidemiologist will have other things on her mind: The 200-meter race. Her name is Gabby Thomas, and this Harvard graduate will be representing Team USA as the record-holder for second-fastest time in this event. In today's post, we'll learn more about this scientist/athlete and her plans for global health in her second career as an epidemiologist.

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