Every year a new class of students start their medical training with a white coat ceremony. The white coat is so synonymous with "Doctor," it seems they have been the medical uniform for centuries. In fact, the coat that carries with it so much prestige (and, it turns out, bacteria) has only been around for about 100 years. Is it time to let the white coat go?
The Centers for Disease Control's Global Safe Healthcare division refers to infection prevention and control as "the cornerstone of a resilient healthcare system and protects health workers, patients, and the surrounding community." This quote got us thinking about the role of a cornerstone, and how it does indeed reflect the critical position IC plays in community health. In today's post, we'll see just how far this metaphor goes in capturing the many ways infection control and prevention impacts quality healthcare.
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.
Alongside its work in the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) maintains an ongoing international presence, providing support and expertise across a variety of healthcare activities. By working with partners in typically low- and middle-income countries, the International Infection Control Program (IICP) focuses efforts on reducing healthcare-associated infections, antimicrobial resistance, and infectious disease outbreaks. In today's post, we will learn about this global program that helps keep all global citizens safe.
Imagine a group of hikers setting out on a 100-mile trek through a remote forest, each taking their own path and traveling alone. Each carries a backpack with supplies necessary for survival such as water, food, tent, and first aid kit. However, a few of them also carry a survival handbook with instructions on how to survive in the wild during life-threatening situations. Unfortunately, this book is extremely heavy, adding 50 lbs the backpack. Who will arrive at the destination?
The Veterans Health Administration has long been at the forefront of progress in reducing hospital-associated infections. Through adherence to best practices, investment in effective interventions, and thorough educational opportunities for staff, the VHA has been able to reduce the most common HAIs. Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, the VHA was able to protect residents of long-term care facilities at levels unmatched outside of the federal agency. A huge part of this success is due to the multi-faceted Environmental Programs Service, which ensures that every aspect of the patient's environment is safe. In today's post, we will look at these facets, and how they come together to protect our honored veterans.
Infection preventionists and their colleagues are inundated with sales messages promoting the latest products, innovations, new formulations, and next big thing to buy for their facility. It's fairly easy to read between the lines of advertisements, weigh the scientific claims written in bold letters on a flyer, and disregard the emoji-filled email subject lines. But what about the review written up in a trade magazine? What about the speaker at a professional organization breakfast? What about the listing in a online product database? How does the busy infection preventionist or healthcare leader know when they are reading an unbiased review and when they are reading a sponsored pieced approved and paid for by the manufacturer?
In our earlier post, we explored the way mutations in bacteria can result in antibiotic resistance. If a mutation helps a bacteria survive its environment, it passes that strength on to future generations, who also survive. Pretty simple. But did you know that bacteria can also transfer their resistant genes to neighboring bacteria? Just like mailing them a letter.