Erica Mitchell

Recent Posts

HAIs in the Time of COVID: The Numbers Are In

by Erica Mitchell | September 17 2021

In a previous post, we explored the preliminary data describing the status of Hospital-Acquired Infections (HAIs) during the pandemic. These first glimpses painted a picture of challenges to infection control and prevention, and hinted at what might be expected in terms of elevated infection risks despite enhancing cleaning regimens. Now, with the release of the analysis conducted by the National Health Safety Network (NHSN) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), we finally have the numbers. In a word, they are bleak.

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Infection Control & Alternative Payment Models: Who will pay? (Part 1)

by Erica Mitchell | September 15 2021

As hard as it is to believe, most hospitals do not know how much their services cost. They know what they charge, but that number has almost nothing to do with what individual services actually cost them as providers. This is about to change. With shockingly rising healthcare costs (17% of our gross national product, and rising at 4% per year) and frighteningly shrinking coffers with which to pay for it, there is a growing movement to move from fee-for-service payment models to alternative value-based payments. As we move towards these new cost-reducing models, what will be the impact on infection control?

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ECMO Treatment and COVID-19

by Erica Mitchell | September 11 2021

Extra-Corporeal Membrane Oxygenation machines, or ECMO, are making headlines these days. This treatment has become a last recourse for some COVID-19 patients whose lungs have been damaged by the virus. With the use of any indwelling device, such as ECMO, comes the elevated risk of infection. In today's post, we'll learn about why ECMO is used for serious COVID-19 cases as well as the impact these devices may have on hospital acquired infection rates.

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Medicare Reimbursement and Hospital-Acquired Infections: The Costly Connection

by Erica Mitchell | September 8 2021

Although COVID-19 is taking the most attention, Medicare continues to penalize hospitals with the highest patient safety incidents. In today's post we explore the whole issue of Medicare reimbursements, penalties, and safety programs.

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5 Things to Know About COVID-19 Booster Shots

by Erica Mitchell | September 3 2021

Even as our nation struggles to achieve herd immunity from COVID-19, talks are beginning about the need for a booster vaccine shot. The possible need for an additional dose to strengthen immunity was always a consideration, but now that millions of individuals have been inoculated over the span of many months, the data tells a more complete story. In today's post, we'll go over 5 things you need to know about this discussion so that you can know if or when to get your booster shot.

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Modifiable Risk Factors: The Courage to Change the Things We Can

by Erica Mitchell | September 1 2021

The Serenity Prayer is a well-known piece of advice about how to approach life's challenges. In it, the speaker asks for serenity to accept the things that cannot be changed, courage to change the things that can, and wisdom to know the difference. When it comes to infection control, the same sentiment could apply to risk factors. There are some risks that cannot be changed, health challenges that we just have to accept and work around. But there are those we can change, and these are modifiable risk factors. The wisdom to know the difference? We'll try to tackle that topic in today's post.

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What Happens When A Hospital Is Full?

by Erica Mitchell | August 27 2021

Last week, Alabama exceeded its ICU capacity. This means that all the state's ICU beds were occupied, and 40+ patients were waiting for a bed to open up. Almost half of US hospitals are under high or extreme stress. Over 3/4 of US ICU beds are full. With COVID surges hitting some areas of the country at disproportionate levels, a question is becoming more and more common: What do we do when the hospitals are full to capacity? In today's post, we'll look at what options are available to states and localities who face this terrifying question.

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The Culture Club: Diagnosing HAIs

by Erica Mitchell | August 25 2021

How do healthcare providers arrive at an HAI diagnosis? A CDC-mandated timing protocol determines whether a patient's infection is healthcare-associated or not. However, it is through a combination of clinical findings, diagnostic testing, and response to treatment that a medical team will determine the presence of an infection in the first place. Today's post will provide a very general overview of the steps a medical team may take in order to diagnose an HAI.

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The Hawthorne Effect: What happens when no one's watching?

by Erica Mitchell | August 18 2021

In the 1920’s and 30’s, the nation was swept up in the Efficiency Movement, an effort to rid every aspect of human life of waste and unproductive activity. Researchers were dispatched to factory floors, classrooms, and even family living rooms with the mission of finding the optimal formula for efficient and productive work, a formula supported by the new excitement over science and experimentation. Within this context, a study was conducted at the Hawthorne Works, a factory making telephone equipment for Western Electric, to determine the optimal illumination level for worker productivity. These experiments went on for eight years, and ended with little fanfare. Decades later, however, Henry A. Landsberger revisited these studies, discovering a pattern that revealed more about human nature than about workplace illumination. This pattern still impacts research today, where it is known as the Hawthone effect.

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The 3 Cs of Vaccine Hesitancy

by Erica Mitchell | August 16 2021

Those of us who have gotten the COVID-19 vaccine may often wonder why everyone hasn't gotten the vaccine. It's free, effective, and virtually painless. We may struggle with friends and loved ones who do not see the vaccine the same way, not knowing how to approach the conversation that might convince them to get the vaccine. The need for getting at least 75% of the American population vaccinated has never been more important, as hospitals fill up and the delta variant sweeps the nation, sickening hundreds of thousands of mostly unvaccinated individuals. One way to prepare for "the vaccine conversation" is to consider what epidemiologists call The 3 Cs of Vaccine Hesitancy: Complacency, Confidence, and Convenience.

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