Are all hospital-acquired infections due to contaminated surfaces? It turns out that some infections - even those as the result of a procedure - are not due to contaminated surfaces, devices, or heath care workers. Sometimes a patient becomes infected by germs in their environment, but sometimes the infections stems from microorganisms in or on their own bodies. Today's post will explore both types of infections and the implications for hospital infection control.
Elderly patients needing support for daily activities present unique challenges to the long-term care facilities who care for them. Today's post will conclude our series on nursing home facilities by focusing on the most common infections faced by their residents.
As we age, our bodies go through changes that can make us more susceptible to disease, injury, and infection. Individuals who experience the greatest number of health issues as they age may find that a nursing home or assisted living facility provides the best medical support. Unfortunately, that then places those individuals in a subset of our aging population who are at greatest risk for infection. Today's post will explore how age and infection risk are related.
The Wall Street Journal addressed the growing concern over infection control in America's nursing homes, citing research from a recent paper from the Columbia School of Nursing. The article summarizes the four key obstacles to effective infection control in nursing homes: Overuse of antibiotics, inadequate staff/training, lack of resources, and a lack of data/surveillance. In this series of posts, we will explore the nursing home landscape, investigating the origin of and solution to each of those four obstacles. Today we start with an overview of nursing homes.
Most babies are born healthy. Delivered in a hospital, a birthing center, a home, or even a stable, they are bundled up, fed, loved, and go on to grow up with few or no complications.
In those cases where a newborn arrives with a medical condition that requires treatment, however, these tiny patients face greater risks than any adult or even an older child. One of the greatest risks faced by newborn patients is getting an infection. In fact, hospital-acquired infections are one of the leading cause of infant morbidity and mortality in neonatal intensive care units.
In formal descriptions of the germ-fighting powers of antibacterial and biocidal products, the terms "Gram positive" and "Gram negative" are used as a way to categorize bacteria. While there are estimated to be over 10,000 species of bacteria, they can be categorized into a few helpful categories.
One of those categories has to do with the structure of the cell membrane. All the known bacteria fit into one of two categories of cell membrane structure: Gram-positive or Gram-negative. But what does that mean?
There are may different pathogens that cause HAIs. Researchers have studied which of these infectious agents tend to cause infections, how those pathogens are transmitted, and which protocols lead to less contamination. Today we'll explore which pathogens cause hospital-acquired infections, which are the most common, and how long can these pathogens survive on surfaces where they can lead to cross-contamination. Think of it as the three P's: Pathogen, Prevalence, and Persistence.
Today's trio of pathogens are stealthy, living on our bodies without causing us harm but wreaking havoc when they find a way inside a bacteria-free, or sterile part of our body (lungs, bloodstream, internal organs, and others). Typically they are surrounded by other species of bacteria in our intestines or on our skin, using all their energy to battle it out for resources with the other species of bacteria that surround them. This keeps them in check. However, if they are able to enter the sterile parts of our body through an incision or medical device, they find themselves in a new territory with absolutely no competition. With uncontested resources, they quickly reproduce and create an infection which can cause great harm, and even death.
Staphylococcus might as well be the mob when it comes to hospital acquired infections. Strains from this bacterial crime family account for 38% of all HAIs and affect all the major sites for infections. Because it is a part of our natural human flora (our own personal biome), it has ready access to opportunities to enter the body, either through an incision or a medical device.
Terminal cleaning is a thorough, deep-cleaning of a patient room between occupants. Its purpose is to rid the room of infectious agents and provide the new occupant a sanitary space for recovery and healing. Terminal cleaning protocols vary by hospital, but the CDC, or Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has recommendations for environmental cleaning, including terminal cleaning. This advice includes the staff involved in monitoring and evaluating cleaning, the training of environmental staff, and the analysis of data collected through regular assessments.
As concerns over hospital-acquired infections have grown over the past decades, innovative technologies have been invented to aid in the reduction of germs in the patient room, what specialists call the "bioburden". Since numerous studies have proven that patients are infected as a result of a contaminated environment (and not just contaminated individuals) these technologies have emphasized testing the surfaces in the room for proof of effective cleaning. Only recently has bacteria-killing technology emerged that supplements the cleaning done by environmental staff. This post will outline the 4 innovative technologies that assist a hospital in ensuring a clean, sanitary room for each patient.