4 Critical Steps on the Path to Zero Harm

by Erica Mitchell | August 11 2021

In earlier posts we discussed three major innovations that led to the formalization of infection control. Now we'll see what four elements make up a hospital's infection control strategy.

1. Hand hygiene

Remember poor Dr. Semmelweiss? If he lived today, he would be glad to see that hand hygiene finally receives the recognition it deserves. However, it just might push him over the edge to learn that, on average, doctors still only wash their hands 50% of the time between patients. Hand-washing campaigns do much to remind staff, but research shows that efforts must be on-going rather than short-term "events." It is important for patients and visitors to maintain hand hygiene as well as the general public. No special techniques or soaps are required - just regular soap and water for 20 seconds, making sure to clean between fingers. Oh, and drying them properly after you wash is also important: Using paper towels is the best way to remove bacteria (hot-air dryers actually increase bacterial levels by spraying them around the environment.)

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What is an antibiogram?

by Erica Mitchell | May 26 2021

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.

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The Origins of Germ Theory, Part 2: A Plague Upon Your House

by Erica Mitchell | May 12 2021

Civilization picked up speed after the discovery of agriculture and animal husbandry, allowing for longer lifespans, healthier people, and lots of population growth. Unfortunately, with population growth comes denser living quarters, enabling contagious diseases to spread more quickly. As humankind spread across the globe in waves of migrations, so did epidemics of unfathomable destruction.
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LTACHs and Infection Control

by Erica Mitchell | March 24 2021

Long-Term Acute Care Hospitals (LTACHs) are facilities serving only patients with serious medical conditions who need at least 25 days of ICU-level care. They evolved from the TB sanitoriums and other specialized treatment facilities of the past, and have experienced significant growth over the past decade. In today’s post, we’ll explore the purpose of these new medical facilities, as well as the implications for infection control when serving these high-risk populations.

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Nursing Homes and Infection Control: The Most Vulnerable Patients

by Erica Mitchell | March 10 2021

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.

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4 Key Terms in Infection Control

by Erica Mitchell | January 6 2021

The infection control landscape is difficult to navigate without an understanding of the key terms used by experts in the field. Some of these terms have found their way into every-day language, but often without the technical nuances that can make a big difference in a health care setting. Today we will start to demystify the terminology of infection control, starting with four "anti" terms.

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4 Ways to Improve Terminal Cleaning

by Erica Mitchell | July 29 2020

Terminal_Cleaning-01Terminal 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.

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How clean is your Hospital Room?

by Erica Mitchell | July 22 2020

When we enter a hospital room as a patient, we are seeing the room at its cleanest. The room has just been scrubbed down during what is called "terminal cleaning," the rigorous cleaning that takes place after one patient is moved in preparation for the next patient to move in. However rigorous this cleaning procedure (and studies indicate that up to 60% of hospital rooms are not cleaned properly), there will be residual contamination by infectious pathogens. In a dynamic process of contamination and recontamination, after cleaning and through cross-transmission, germs stick around and continue to make patients sicker.

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Contaminated Environment = Infected Patient: A Proof In Six Steps 

by Erica Mitchell | May 20 2020

Surface disinfection has become the new normal.  Today's post takes the concept of a high school geometry proof to connect contaminated environments to infected patients.  Although this research is in healthcare settings the concept applies to all surfaces in all environments. Rest assured, you’re not crazy for questioning the last time the shopping cart handle, mass transit grab rail, or door push plate you just touched was wiped down.

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Anatomy of an Isolation Room

by Erica Mitchell | April 22 2020

Isolation_RoomIncluded in recent news about COVID-19, hospital isolation rooms have made headlines. Retrofitting of regular hospital units and emergency construction of public spaces to increase capacity for treating highly contagious patients are just some of the areas utilizing innovative technologies. But isolation rooms are not just for protecting the uninfected - they also create a clean environment for the patient whose immune system may be compromised. What goes into designing and building an isolation room? What can we learn from the best practices in these rooms to apply to our lives as the world starts to exists extreme self-isolation?

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