Motivated by reason, civil duty, and patriotism, representatives from the Colonies gathered in Philadelphia to put their names on an historic document. That very act put their lives at risk. The date was July 4, 1776 and the document was the Declaration of Independence. Among the 56 signatories, four came from the field of medicine. In today’s post, we’ll examine these individuals and learn about their legacy beyond the document.
In the 1970s, infection control and prevention became a specialty in it's own right. Since then, the role and expertise of the individual tasked with preventing and controlling infections has grown and evolved. Originally, individuals charged with hospital infection control typically had a nursing background and executed tasks closely related to a clinical nurse specialist - supervision, education, reporting, and clinical expertise. However, recent changes in accountability and hospital finance management have spurred an expansion of duties for this individual, now more appropriately called an "Infection Preventionist." What do these individuals do in a hospital? What are their job expectations and core competencies? Join us as we explore this vital profession within the field of healthcare.
Who obsesses over the safety of a community's environment? Who knows all the building codes, chemical exposure limits, and fire retardant additives by heart? Who walks through a built space and can identify potential risks from air quality, radiation, ergonomics, violence, and stress without batting an eye? Why, it's the industrial hygienist, of course! Today we will explore this profession and its role in keeping us healthy and safe.
We know a lot (or actually most) of our posts about infection and hospitals can be terrifying. But here's some good news: A least you don't live in the time before antibiotics and infection control!
Germ theory, the idea that infection is caused by microscopic organisms unseen to the naked eye, is only a few hundred years old. This theory focuses on three main components.
- The reservoir: The person, animal, or surface that carries the infection.
- The mode of transmission: Via direct contact, a droplet of liquid, airborne, a vector (such as an insect), or a vehicle (food or surface)
- The susceptible host: A person and his/her ports of entry (nose, mouth, incision, medical device, wound)
But the paths from the reservoir to the susceptible host seem infinite. To narrow down the steps needed to prove this relationship between contaminated rooms and infected patients, researchers have proposed routes of transmission that could account for a relationship. Here are two proposals, both of which demonstrate the critical role played by surfaces in the transmission of pathogens.
We have all heard about validity and reliability in research. Validity tells us that your results actually measure what you wanted to measure. Reliability means your results can be consistently reproduced. But before either of those two attributes of research can be considered, there is fidelity: Did you conduct your research as planned? In today's post, we'll explore the lesser-known member of this research quality triumvirate.
There are many ways a hospital can be assured that it is performing well. They can conduct internal assessments of patient outcomes, look at patient surveys, and consider staff feedback. They can also get outside opinions from organizations whose sole purpose is to evaluate hospitals using national standards. Releasing the results of both internal and external evaluations enable transparency in healthcare, benefiting both the facility and the consumer. In today's post, we'll explore one of the more recent organizations that accredits hospitals, DNV GL.
So much of the success of infection control and prevention teams is the establishment of routines that promote best practices: Easy-to-access hand hygiene stations, checklists, terminal cleaning protocols, and a built environment that supports a lower bioburden all work together to help reduce transmission of pathogens. Disruptions to those routines open gaps where opportunistic microorganisms can sneak in and wreak havoc. While some of those disruptions can be avoided, there is a predictable, massive disruption facing all healthcare facilities: Renovation and construction projects. Today's post will explore some of the threats introduced by construction projects and what the facility can do to minimize HAIs.
Our efforts to reduce hospital acquired infections (HAIs) may have hit a challenging conundrum. On the one hand, we know that handwashing is essential to break the chain of transmission from infected (or colonized) host to vulnerable patient. On the other hand, one of the key tools in facilitating handwashing has been recently demonstrated to play a role in transmitting pathogens. That tool? The sink. Many think sinks are beginning to tip the balance toward doing more harm than good.
As a response to the growing global and national threat of antibiotic resistance, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) established a network of labs whose sole mission is to help detect, prevent, contain and respond to outbreaks of antibiotic resistant pathogens. Today's post will explore this mission and how it is implemented.