Polymerase Chain Reaction, or PCR, allows us to quickly identify a pathogen from a small sample. This rapid identification is a helpful change from traditional culturing methods, which can take several days. In today's post, we will explore how faster identification leads to better patient outcomes.
While prevention is always the goal when it comes to a hospital-acquired infection, rapid diagnosis is essential to better outcomes. The sooner the physician knows which pathogen is causing the infection, the sooner she can prescribe the correct antibiotic. The sooner the medical team can determine if a patient is cleared of infection, the sooner that patient can be removed from isolation. Unfortunately, traditional diagnosing requires samples from the patient be plated and cultured, a process that can take from 16 hours to several weeks. However, a technology exists that allows pathogens to be identified in just a few hours. Over the course of two posts, we will explore the transformative technology of polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, and the impact it is having on hospital infection control.
Epidemiology is a branch of medicine that studies the way disease moves through human populations, from outbreak to control. The word epidemic itself means “among the people,” used to describe a disease that affects an entire community. Today we will explore the role of the specialist dealing with disease in a very specific community, the hospital.
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.
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.
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.
No one wants to stay in a hospital any longer than they have to. We all have an innate desire to get back to the comfort of our homes and begin the process of returning to normal activities. Some of us may not realize that there is also a very real, scientific reason for leaving the hospital as soon as possible: The longer a patient is in the hospital, the greater their chances of getting a hospital-associated infection (HAI), and once a patient has an HAI, they tend to stay longer in the hospital. It seems like a lose-lose scenario for everyone involved. It's just in everybody's best interest to reduce HAIs to not increase LOS, and shorten LOS to reduce HAIs. In today's post, we'll see how healthcare facilities are working to accomplish this dual goal.
Nursing responsibilities have changed dramatically over the past decades. While some non-medical tasks have been shifted to other workers, additional administrative responsibilities have been added. As a result, nursing is among the top most stressful jobs in our country, made all the more challenging during the pandemic. What happens when nurses feel pressured by time constraints? What can be done to alleviate this pressure? We will look at options in today's post.
The general public has never been more aware of handwashing, thanks to the COVID pandemic. We all got a glimpse into the world of the healthcare worker as we washed our hands or used hand sanitizer every time we left a store or got home. Healthcare workers live this life daily, with protocols set to remind them to take every handwashing opportunity in an effort to protect patients (and themselves) from disease. In today's post, we will explore how the pandemic impacted hand washing, called hand hygiene, during the pandemic and beyond. Did the pandemic increase or decrease hand hygiene?