We have often discussed the different terms used to describe products that clean the patient environment in this blog. Using the correct terms, and understanding their full definitions, is a critical first step in both writing and learning about the field of infection control and prevention. One term that comes up often as we talk to folks not directly involved in the field is the broad term "antimicrobial." In today's post, we will look at how this broad term covers a huge variety of products and efficacy against pathogens, and we will provide some examples to put this word in context.
This week is International Infection Prevention Week (#IIPW) where we celebrate Infection Preventionists, the multi-faceted professionals who keep us safe from hospital-acquired infections. This week, we will explore the various pathways individuals can take to become one of these vital healthcare workers, including degrees and certifications.
In 2008, the medical field presented data to the federal government in support of funding to study antimicrobial resistance in hospital-associated pathogens. A leading figure in the effort, Dr. Louis B. Rice, had spent his career studying the mechanisms of antibiotic resistance and knew first-hand the threat presented by resistant pathogens as hospital-acquired infections. In his statement of support to continued funding of research, Dr. Rice coined a term that has become a useful acronym for anyone working in the field of infection prevention and control: ESKAPE pathogens. In today's post, we will discover these pathogens and the status of our fight against them since Dr. Rice first devised the term.
Consider a staff position "as important as the medical staff [since] an unclean and unsafe medical facility cannot function properly" (Healthsource, 2018). An employee who is "first line of defense against infections" (HFM, 2018). A worker whose "attention to detail sets the stage for a clean and safe healthcare environment" (ASHE, 2016). In the past, this individual might have been called a custodian, a word that captures responsibility, trust, and safe-keeping. Today, this critical healthcare staff member may be known as an environmental services technician, but the responsibility and trust remain. In today's post, we'll explore the push and pull from different priorities experienced by environmental services personnel.
Have you ever struggled with a gas nozzle that didn't fit, only to find it was for the wrong type of fuel? Or have you ever tried to add one last item to a running washing machine only to be confronted by a locked door? These and countless other mundane experiences are the result of error-proofing potentially dangerous or destructive equipment we use on a daily basis. Under the Toyota Production System developed in the 1960s, Shigeo Shingo used the term "poka-yoke," which means "avoid mistakes." This concept is now an integral part of many efficiency and safety systems: Planning for errors and designing ways to prevent them. In today's post, we'll explore how the concepts of poka-yoke could be applied to infection prevention.
In the 1970s, infection control and prevention became a specialty in it's own right. Since then, the role and expertise of the individual tasked with preventing and controlling infections has grown and evolved. Originally, individuals charged with hospital infection control typically had a nursing background and executed tasks closely related to a clinical nurse specialist - supervision, education, reporting, and clinical expertise. However, recent changes in accountability and hospital finance management have spurred an expansion of duties for this individual, now more appropriately called an "Infection Preventionist." What do these individuals do in a hospital? What are their job expectations and core competencies? Join us as we explore this vital profession within the field of healthcare.
This past week saw a devastating hurricane barrel into the United States. Hurricane Ian, which began as a tropical wave east of the Winward Islands, attained Category 4 designation as it reached the Gulf Coast of Florida. As it plowed across Central Florida, it brought sustained winds of 145 mph at the coast and 85 mph even as it reached the Atlantic Ocean two days later. As with all hurricanes of this magnitude, the dangers to life and limb are not limited to the duration of the actual storm- the weeks that follow bring a whole new set of dangerous conditions. Today's post will explore the dangers that involve infectious disease and the overall access to medical care.
Infection prevention and control is a challenging field. There is the long training and certification process. There are the long hours of on-the-job training and specialization. There are the mountains and mountains of paperwork alongside the demanding clinical work. Some might even say it’s a thankless job, with tons of pressure to improve, alongside an ever-changing landscape of pathogens and patient populations. And yet there continues to be a group of passionate individuals who choose to make a difference by becoming infection preventionists. Today we take a moment to say thank you to all those students of infection control, the future professionals in IC/IP.
In a widely-circulated interview, President Biden stated that the pandemic was, in effect, over. While not an official statement and also clarified over the next few days, the idea that the worst of the pandemic is over has been echoed by global medical experts. So what now? A return to "normal" in the medical field does not mean no more infections; in fact, it means returning to a world where almost 100,000 people die each year from infections they acquired while receiving medical care - most of which are preventable. There are many similarities between a pandemic and the on-going crisis of hospital-acquired infections, and in today's post, we will explore them.
This series on outpatient services and infection control can seem rather dismal. Thankfully, most outpatient facilities are safe and only a small percentage of patients experience an HAI. Nonetheless, the breaches in infection control mean that given the right circumstances, severe outbreaks can (and do) take place. The reality can make us feel powerless and confused. Fortunately, there are things that we can do to help.