Gram Positive vs Gram Negative Bacteria and the Fight Against HAIs

by Erica Mitchell | September 23 2020

In formal descriptions of the germ-fighting powers of antibacterial and biocidal products, the terms "Gram positive" and "Gram negative" are used as a way to categorize bacteria. While there are estimated to be over 10,000 species of bacteria, they can be categorized into a few helpful categories.

One of those categories has to do with the structure of the cell membrane. All the known bacteria fit into one of two categories of cell membrane structure: Gram-positive or Gram-negative. But what does that mean?

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Pathogen, Persistence, and Prevalence

by Erica Mitchell | September 16 2020

There are may different pathogens that cause HAIs. Researchers have studied which of these infectious agents tend to cause infections, how those pathogens are transmitted, and which protocols lead to less contamination. Today we'll explore which pathogens cause hospital-acquired infections, which are the most common, and how long can these pathogens survive on surfaces where they can lead to cross-contamination. Think of it as the three P's: Pathogen, Prevalence, and Persistence.

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Stealthy Passengers: E. coli, Klebsiella, and Enterococcus

by Erica Mitchell | August 19 2020

Today's trio of pathogens are stealthy, living on our bodies without causing us harm but wreaking havoc when they find a way inside a bacteria-free, or sterile part of our body (lungs, bloodstream, internal organs, and others). Typically they are surrounded by other species of bacteria in our intestines or on our skin, using all their energy to battle it out for resources with the other species of bacteria that surround them. This keeps them in check. However, if they are able to enter the sterile parts of our body through an incision or medical device, they find themselves in a new territory with absolutely no competition. With uncontested resources, they quickly reproduce and create an infection which can cause great harm, and even death.

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The Prime Suspect in HAIs: Staphylococcus

by Erica Mitchell | August 13 2020

Staphylococcus might as well be the mob when it comes to hospital acquired infections. Strains from this bacterial crime family account for 38% of all HAIs and affect all the major sites for infections. Because it is a part of our natural human flora (our own personal biome), it has ready access to opportunities to enter the body, either through an incision or a medical device. 

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4 Ways to Improve Terminal Cleaning

by Erica Mitchell | July 29 2020

Terminal_Cleaning-01Terminal cleaning is a thorough, deep-cleaning of a patient room between occupants. Its purpose is to rid the room of infectious agents and provide the new occupant a sanitary space for recovery and healing. Terminal cleaning protocols vary by hospital, but the CDC, or Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has recommendations for environmental cleaning, including terminal cleaning. This advice includes the staff involved in monitoring and evaluating cleaning, the training of environmental staff, and the analysis of data collected through regular assessments.

As concerns over hospital-acquired infections have grown over the past decades, innovative technologies have been invented to aid in the reduction of germs in the patient room, what specialists call the "bioburden". Since numerous studies have proven that patients are infected as a result of a contaminated environment (and not just contaminated individuals) these technologies have emphasized testing the surfaces in the room for proof of effective cleaning. Only recently has bacteria-killing technology emerged that supplements the cleaning done by environmental staff. This post will outline the 4 innovative technologies that assist a hospital in ensuring a clean, sanitary room for each patient.

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How clean is your Hospital Room?

by Erica Mitchell | July 22 2020

When we enter a hospital room as a patient, we are seeing the room at its cleanest. The room has just been scrubbed down during what is called "terminal cleaning," the rigorous cleaning that takes place after one patient is moved in preparation for the next patient to move in. However rigorous this cleaning procedure (and studies indicate that up to 60% of hospital rooms are not cleaned properly), there will be residual contamination by infectious pathogens. In a dynamic process of contamination and recontamination, after cleaning and through cross-transmission, germs stick around and continue to make patients sicker.

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Contaminated Environment = Infected Patient: A Proof In Six Steps 

by Erica Mitchell | May 20 2020

Surface disinfection has become the new normal.  Today's post takes the concept of a high school geometry proof to connect contaminated environments to infected patients.  Although this research is in healthcare settings the concept applies to all surfaces in all environments. Rest assured, you’re not crazy for questioning the last time the shopping cart handle, mass transit grab rail, or door push plate you just touched was wiped down.

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Cleaning House, Part 1: Lessons from the Cleanest Hospitals

by Erica Mitchell | March 25 2020

Whether someone in your home has been sick, or you simply want to reduce the spread of outside germs into your quarantine environment, one of the first things you want to do is clean up. But what needs to be cleaned? And what cleaner is needed? These are some critical questions that can be answered with a little help from the cleaning professionals in a hospital. Let’s bring some of the lessons learned from hospital cleaning home as we clean house!

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Hospital Scores: We Compare The Top 3 Ratings Websites

by Erica Mitchell | February 20 2020

Consumers have a difficult time navigating the data that is available to help them make decisions about safe hospital choices. Today we are going to explore 3 popular hospital ranking sites and see how they compare in the same scenario. We are going to put ourselves in the place of a prospective patient undergoing surgery trying to find a hospital in Richmond, Virginia with the lowest infection rates. Let’s see which hospital stands out, and whether all 3 sites agree!

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A Child Is Born: Remembering Our Tiniest Patients

by Erica Mitchell | December 24 2019

Most babies are born healthy. Delivered in a hospital, a birthing center, a home, or even a stable, they are bundled up, fed, loved, and go on to grow up with few or no complications.

In those cases where a newborn arrives with a medical condition that requires treatment, however, these tiny patients face greater risks than any adult or even an older child. One of the greatest risks faced by newborn patients is getting an infection. In fact, hospital-acquired infections are one of the leading cause of infant morbidity and mortality in neonatal intensive care units.


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