Before COVID-19, the field of infection control and prevention was making incredible progress. Putting in place protocols and ensuring consistent surveillance and feedback was enabling the staff in hospitals and facilities to reduce infection and transmission rates of hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) such as central line infections and ventilator-associated pneumonia. But once the pandemic hit and the staff were bombarded by an influx of seriously ill patients, often at numbers that strained or exceeded the facilities, many of those protocols and processes had to be put aside to deal with the emergency at hand. As a result, some HAIs saw dramatic increases. We saw first-hand what happened when staff and resources were suddenly curtailed. What if there were infection control and prevention tools that could persist even during times of crisis?
One of the tools available to infection preventionists, hospital epidemiologists and healthcare practitioners is the antibiogram. While not all facilities or networks will have an up-to-date version of this report, they are becoming more common. What is an antibiogram and how can it be used? In simple terms, an antibiogram is a report that shows how susceptible strains of pathogens are to a variety of antibiotics.
There is really no way to overstate the importance of Girolamo Fracastoro's bold proposal about the roots of infection. His idea that infections were caused by "seeds," living things unseen to the naked eye, was followed by deductions that included the spread of contagion, incubation periods, the organs affected by particular infectious agents, the vulnerable age for a particular disease, the idea that a survivor of an infection is protected against future infections, the ability of a disease to pass from mother to child through nursing, and many other valuable observations. His genius, while respected and supported, was not definitively proven until over 100 years later, with the advent of the microscope.
Some of the most incredible human innovations have led to saving or improving millions of lives, from antibiotics to x-rays. In today's world, however, healing the sick does not take place in a vacuum. Together with medical care, society has to consider medical costs, which have been steadily rising over the past decades. In this post, we'll look at some of the ways that innovations can help or harm the bottom line at a hospital or facility.
Public transportation was one of the hardest hit sectors during the COVID pandemic. Some cities, such as San Francisco, saw ridership go down as much as 95%, leading to great losses in revenue for these city- and state-funded systems (making those which rely more on fares than on taxes especially vulnerable). There is a projected revenue shortfall of $39.3 billion for nationwide public transit systems through 2023, despite almost the same amount being provided from the federal government through CARES and CRRIAA Acts. Getting the public back onto public transportation is therefore of primary importance to the financial recovery of both the public transportation systems and the regions they serve. A big part of this recovery during the pandemic is getting the public to trust that their health is not in danger when they ride a bus, subway, or train. Just how does a public transportation system get the public back on board?
We take for granted the knowledge that infection is caused by microscopic organisms. But the road to this scientific truth has been long and winding, and medical professionals have taken some pretty odd detours along the way. Hindsight being 20/20, we can examine this path and see the seeds - or germs - of germ theory as we know it today.