In our previous posts in this series, we've discussed the changes brought about by the COVID19 pandemic that we want to see go and those which we want to see stick around. In our final post of the series, we'll present what we learned from the pandemic and need to change before the next one comes. Now that we are all so much more aware that the next pandemic is not an "if" but rather a "when," what more can we do to better prepare so that the next one isn't as medically and economically destructive?
Injections are one of the most common procedures taking place in a medical setting (16 billion administered globally each year). This common procedure presents a significant opportunity for infection since it breaks the skin barrier, may involve products used for multiple patients, and is performed so often that lapses in preventive measures can become serious outbreaks. Today we’ll explore the safety precautions that are in place to prevent patient harm, what lapses are frequent enough to raise an alarm, and what you can do to help support injection safety.
In our last post, we covered what aspects of daily life, especially in the medical field, we are eager to get back to normal, pre-pandemic life. These are the practices and protocols that we had to put on hold, adapt, or stop during the height of COVID-19 cases and transmission. In today's post, we'll look at some of the changes we made that we should keep doing, those things that we learned to integrate into our daily lives that have benefits beyond a global pandemic. Here are some of those things that should become our new "normal."
One element of standard precautions has come under intense scrutiny in recent years: The reprocessing (cleaning for reuse) of medical devices. The proper cleaning of these devices involves complex protocols to ensure infection prevention, protocols with critical steps - from design to storage- that, if not followed, lead to dire, if not fatal, results. Today’s post will explore medical device reprocessing, who regulates them, and some recent outbreaks associated with cleaning lapses or design flaws.
As the United States approaches 50% full vaccination rate, businesses are reopening and a return to pre-pandemic life seems within grasp. As we begin to recover from the impact of a year of isolation, social distancing, and the stress of a global public health crisis, which of these changes are we most eager to see return to normal? What habits and protocols do we think should stick around? And finally, what changes must be made before we encounter our next global pandemic? In this series, we will explore each of these categories as we enter a post-pandemic world.
Last year, as healthcare workers faced shortages, the world was reminded of some of the “standard precautions” all hospitals operate under to control infection. This basic level of infection control is to be used at all times for all patients to reduce the risk of transmission of germs including bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other microorganisms. Not only do these precautions protect the healthcare worker from infection, they protect other patients by reducing the risk of transmission. Today we’ll explore these precautions. In the coming weeks, we will cover how lapses in compliance put patients and healthcare workers at risk, and what you can do as a patient or patient advocate to ensure that the rules are followed.
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.