Erica Mitchell

Recent Posts

The Box That Could Identify the Next Pandemic

by Erica Mitchell | August 2 2021

There is a newly released book that has risen quickly to top the best-sellers lists that is telling many unknown stories about the public health setting leading up to the COVID-19 pandemic. Aptly named, The Premonition highlights key figures in the research and policy that set the stage for our global and national response. Through these personal stories, author Michael Lewis gives readers insights into the many early warnings - the premonitions - that a major viral outbreak was about to change our lives for a long time. One such story highlights a tool that will invariably help us detect the next outbreak. In today's post, we'll learn about that technology and the steps being taken to make bioinformatics an early warning system.

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Hospital Acquired Conditions vs. Hospital Acquired Infections: The Differences

by Erica Mitchell | July 28 2021

In the world of healthcare, there are so many acronyms (and some might say, euphemisms) for the deadly toll of medical errors and infections. Two such terms are HACs and HAIs. Today we'll explore the difference between the two, both in terms of what conditions they cover and how they are regulated and reported.

Last week we discussed Preventable Adverse Events, those medical errors deemed avoidable (and not necessarily the result of negligence). This is a way of referring to medical errors in a broad way that can include errors in medications, procedures, caretaking, and safety. 

There are also Hospital-Acquired Conditions (HACs) and Hospital-Acquired Infections (HAIs). HAIs are one example of a HAC, but not the only one. Let's explore how these terms fit into the big picture. 

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The Delta Variant: 5 Things To Know

by Erica Mitchell | July 26 2021

Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have covered the issue of variants, virus mutations that affect the way SARS-CoV-2 moves around the globe and causes disease. One particular mutation, the delta variant, has been named a "variant of concern" by the CDC, and now accounts for upwards of 83% of new COVID-19 cases in the United States. In today's post, we'll cover 5 topics about the delta variant, providing you with some new and interesting facts about the variant that is in all the headlines.

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What is a Preventable Adverse Event?

by Erica Mitchell | July 21 2021

Medical students have made the same promise since the dawn of health care: First, do no harm. Despite living by this maxim, medical staff are human. While they are held to extremely high standards - both by their employers and by themselves - these professionals do make mistakes.

The quick definition of a preventable adverse event is harm to a patient caused by their medical care rather than their underlying medical issue (disease, illness, injury). These medical errors are often referred to as "preventable adverse events," a broad term that can be explored by looking at those three key words.

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How The Tokyo Olympics Are Controlling COVID

by Erica Mitchell | July 19 2021

Global events have a long history of impacting the Olympic Games. World wars have cancelled the modern Olympic games three times, political boycotts have affected some nations several times, and concerns over disease (both human and equine) have affected where and when these world-class athletes could compete. The 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, however, represent the first time the events have been postponed in modern history. Now the world's top athletes are preparing to compete amidst concerns that SARS-CoV-2 is still circulating, presenting issues to the host country as well as the travelling athletes. How are the Olympics handling the pandemic? In today's post, we'll describe some of the steps Japan is taking to keep their country and the thousands of visitors safe and healthy.

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5 Things You Can Do To Avoid A Hospital-Acquired Infection

by Erica Mitchell | July 14 2021

The idea of going to the hospital can be scary enough without even thinking of the possibility of getting a hospital-acquired infection (HAI). However, there are a few things you can do to reduce your risk of getting an infection while recovering in a hospital or other healthcare facility, especially when you are being admitted for a planned procedure with advance notice. These are 5 quick steps you can take to help you and your health care team.

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The Fastest Epidemiologist in the World?

by Erica Mitchell | July 12 2021

The Tokyo Olympics are just around the corner, with massive logistics being put in place to make sure the athletic even doesn't become a COVID super-spreader event. Epidemiologists are working around the clock to make sure that athletes and their teams are safe and healthy. But one epidemiologist will have other things on her mind: The 200-meter race. Her name is Gabby Thomas, and this Harvard graduate will be representing Team USA as the record-holder for second-fastest time in this event. In today's post, we'll learn more about this scientist/athlete and her plans for global health in her second career as an epidemiologist.

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3 Reasons Why Patients Get Infections

by Erica Mitchell | July 7 2021

We live in an environment teeming with microscopic organisms. They cover not only the surfaces we touch, but also our skin and even our insides. We are not aware of this bioburden most of the time, and even if we do get the flu or if a cut gets infected, we treat it ourselves and move on without a second thought.

Some of us are not so lucky.

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Post-COVID Preparation [infographic]

by Erica Mitchell | July 2 2021

Last week concluded our series on what the world will look like post-COVID. In our first post, we covered changes made during the pandemic that we want to get back to normal as soon as possible. Our second post discussed changes that should stick around, since they help us stay healthier each day. Our final post suggested some changes we need to make to prepare for the next pandemic, while the lessons from COVID are still in our minds. Today, we present an infographic that lays out the main ideas from this series in a single page. You can download this infographic to share with colleagues and maybe stimulate conversations for your facility. Let us know what we left out! We all need to share lessons to help us prepare for the future.

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The Most Common Sites and Types of Hospital Acquired Infections

by Erica Mitchell | June 30 2021

We are all covered in bacteria. (You could even say we are all contaminated.) Bacteria and other microorganisms live in our gut, in our mucous membranes such as our nostrils, on our eyelashes, and in our bellybuttons. We do not consider ourselves infected, however, because these organisms have not crossed the barrier of our skin to enter our tissues, muscles, bones, and body cavities. These deep parts of our bodies are basically sterile - no microorganisms live there at all. As long as our protective barriers are not breached, we remain healthy. The "contamination" is just part of our microbiome, our own personal little collection of life that we carry around with us all the time. This microbiome is made up of colonies of bacteria, groups of same-species bacteria that live and die without our even being aware of them.

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