Hospitals and Evidence-Based Design Part 3: Today's New Hospitals

by Erica Mitchell | January 30 2015

Evidence-Based_Design-01Evidence-based design became a focus of study in the 1980s. This movement paired design choices with structured, formal scientific research. Rather than relying on anecdotal evidence of design choices, researchers systematically tracked data on patient outcomes. One recent study, for example, was able to demonstrate a reduction in the use of pain medications by patients in rooms with a view towards nature. 

Evidence-based design can focus on various aspects of hospital function. Decisions about design are influenced by what we know about human psychology and stress, medical treatments, infection control, financial considerations, efficiency, and human movement/traffic flow. Ultimately, the goal of evidence-based design is to improve patient outcomes, safety, and administration.

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Hospitals and Evidence-Based Design Part 2: The Revolutionary 100 Years

by Erica Mitchell | January 29 2015

Age_of_RevolutionAfter thousands of years of medical care provided in homes and religious buildings, health care moved into the public sphere. Buildings were constructed solely for medical purposes, with patient quarters, staff facilities, and specialized equipment. However, no other era saw as much transformation in healthcare as the years between Florence Nightengale in the 1840s and the golden age of antibiotics in the 1940s. Today's post will examine the transformation of hospital spaces during this time period.

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Hospitals and Evidence-Based Design Part 1: Early History

by Erica Mitchell | January 28 2015

Ancient_MedicineWith life, there is illness. Some of the earliest examples of life on Earth, bacteria, show evidence of invasion by viruses. Our earliest recorded history includes written accounts of individuals trying to make sense of illness and injury. These early records, and the experiments and efforts that accompanied them, are the first examples of the scientific method which resulted in all our modern advances, including evidence-based design.

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The Final Round-Up of Pathogens Causing Hospital-Acquired Infections

by Erica Mitchell | January 23 2015

Usual_Suspects_all-01Today's post wraps up the usual suspects when it comes to pathogens contributing to hospital acquired infection. These pathogens, while less prevalent than those mentioned in earlier posts, still pose a danger to immunocompromised patients in healthcare settings. 

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Watching, Waiting: Opportunistic Pseudomonas, Enterobacter, and Candida

by Erica Mitchell | January 22 2015



Watching and waiting, always lurking around the next corner, these three pathogens are both found everywhere and highly resistant, a 1-2 punch for vulnerable patients. They reside in the environment as well as on our bodies, some of them in mucuous membranes. These membranes are perfect homes for bacteria: Moist, warm, and often dark. So while they survive for long periods of time without resources, with access to an environment with little competition they will quickly reproduce and become dangerous, especially if they find a way into our bodies. Keep an eye over your shoulder for these ninja pathogens.

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Stealthy Passengers: E. coli, Klebsiella, and Enterococcus

by Erica Mitchell | January 21 2015

Usual_Suspects2-01Today'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 | January 20 2015

Usual_Suspects-01Staphylococcus 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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The Usual Suspects: The Microorganisms that Cause HAIs

by Erica Mitchell | January 19 2015


It is estimated that there are  5×1030 bacteria on Earth. That's 5,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000, or 5 nonillion. We have not even begun to identify them all, and new strains are evolving all the time. We not only coexist with bacteria on Earth, they outnumber us by such a mind-boggling degree that we cannot even conceive it. Consider this: There are currently just over 7 billion humans on earth, and one spoonful of rich soil contains approximately 10 trillion bacteria. And our bodies? Bacterial cells outnumber human cells 10 to 1. (But don't worry, you're not a zombie. They make up only 3% of our body mass. But still.)

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Guest Blogger: Team Stryker and Patient Empowerment in 6 Steps

by Genie Powell Stryker | January 16 2015

Stryker-01-01-01We were in the hospital room when the nurse came in holding a bag of clear liquid. She casually mentioned that she was giving my husband Rich lactated ringer. As she started to wind the tubing through the pump I asked, “What is lactated ringer?” She stopped and just looked at the bag. I continued, “What makes it different than just saline?”

“Well, it has more … It can … Well, the blood … COME ON NURSING SCHOOL, don’t fail me now!"

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3 Not-So-Easy Steps to an EPA Registration for Public Health Claims

by Erica Mitchell | January 14 2015

epa2-01Securing an EPA Registration for Public Health Claims is difficult, time-consuming, and costly. However, the registration, while not an endorsement or certification, is a standard by which products can be evaluated and chosen with confidence. An EPA registration number tells consumers that the product has gone through rigorous testing and found not to be a threat to consumer health or the environment.1

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How To Be A More Empowered Patient, Part V

by Erica Mitchell | January 9 2015

Empowered_Patient-01Today wraps up our series on becoming an empowered patient or patient advocate. We hope 2015 brings you all nothing but health and happiness, but should you face a medical challenge, I hope these suggestions help you or your loved one walk a smoother path to healing.

Step 5:Rally Your Support System!

You don't have to go through being a patient by yourself. Share your experiences with family, close friends, and trusted advisors. There are many ways to bring folks together to help you, including social media, websites, phone trees, and even email lists. One of your friends or family members may step forward to undertake the responsibility of keeping everyone updated, or you may choose your own way to do so. Whatever you choose, do not hesitate to ask for help.

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How To Be A More Empowered Patient, Part IV

by Erica Mitchell | January 8 2015


Today's topic has suggestions for how to keep track of all the information you are collecting. Whether you like paper-based or digital information storage, keep these ideas in mind to help reign in the sometimes overwhelming amount of data.

Step 4: Record-Keeping!

One of the most important things you can do as a patient or patient advocate is to keep notes. Write down symptoms, questions, and any information you may want to share with your caregiver. It is easy to think in the moment that you will remember what is said and remember what you want to ask and even remember all the information about your recent symptoms so you can answer the doctor’s questions.The truth is, however, that the visits and the concern are more stressful than we may know and it is very difficult to remember all that you need to remember.  Here are some helpful tips to get you started.

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How To Be A More Empowered Patient, Part III

by Erica Mitchell | January 7 2015

Our series continues with a step that helps you take action as you become a more empowered patient. While health insurance and other factors set certain limits on your choices, the more you know about your healthcare options in advance, the better. 

Step 3: Action!

In many cases, you decide what doctor you go to, what hospital you check into, and even what treatment you receive. There are few things you can do to help you make better choices.

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How To Be A More Empowered Patient, Part II

by Erica Mitchell | January 6 2015


Today we continue our series on our New Year's resolution: Becoming a more empowered patient! This step provides some guidelines to help make the most of our information-gathering.

Step 2:Research!

One of the first things any of us do when we encounter illness is to Google it. A recent study showed that one in three  (35%) American adults have used the Internet to "diagnose" a medical condition. Even our doctors warn us not to research "too much." It's not that they don't want us to be informed; it's just that the Internet is full of every kind of information, from baseless opinion to peer-reviewed data alongside an entire spectrum of possible diagnoses, prognosis, and symptoms. We have to be careful about our research and approach it more strategically..

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New Year's Resolution: How To Be A More Empowered Patient, Part I

by Erica Mitchell | January 5 2015


Happy New Year!    Among our list of new year's resolutions, this one isgoing on top: Becoming more empowered patients. In today's healthcare settings, the patient can and should play a critical role in healing, if she or he is informed, assertive, and supported.

At no other time in history has the patient had access to the amouint of information about illness, had the legal and societal (and financial) rights to determine healthcare choices, and access to widespread availability of cutting edge technology and expert care. In this five-part series you will find the steps you can take to become more empowered, either as a patient yourself, or as a patient advocate.

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Personal Stories about Hospital Acquired Infections, Part I

by Erica Mitchell | January 2 2015


Often the words of a concerned family member capture the experience of infection control far better than any researcher or specialist. We read with great sympathy a recent letter to the editor of the Buffalo News by a man whose mother is fighting an infection she may have contracted during a hospital stay. The comments below the online post are full of personal stories that reveal that most, if not all of us, have personal stories having to do with a loved one contracting an infection from a healthcare setting. 

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