Nosocomial infections, also known as hospital acquired infections or HAI’s, are any infection or ailment acquired during a patient’s hospital stay that they would not have otherwise been exposed to. Healthcare professionals and organizations have a professional duty to prevent hospital acquired infections. As such, they need to take every preventative measure that they reasonably can.
Hospital acquired infections are primarily spread through the presence of fomites or the lack of proper hand hygiene. Both methods are a means through which bacteria such as MRSA and Staph can establish a vector and spread from patient to patient – sometimes with deadly results.
The sad part is that these infections are entirely preventable. Simple hand hygiene, e.g. washing one’s hands every time they enter and exit a clients room, can nearly entirely remove healthcare practitioners as a disease vector entirely. Using latex or vinyl gloves during procedures where indicated and where the practitioner is not allergic can serve to reduce them even more. According to the CDC, when healthcare providers take these simple steps, hospital acquired infections can be cut by as much as 70%.
Fomites can be more difficult for organizations to deal with. On one hand, a simple solution would be to continually sterilize everything that could possibly be touched by a human being and to disallow outside items from entering the hospital. On the other, this can be incredibly unrealistic.
Staff and visiting family should always follow infection control protocol when entering and exiting a patient’s room. This means that all precautions staff and family are meant to follow should be clearly posted outside of the patient’s room in a way that is easy to understand. Staff should educate family where appropriate, and ensure that loved ones wash their hands prior to entering. They should try to prevent outside items from entering the room where contraindicated.
Housekeeping staff should be well educated and continually trained in proper infection control procedures. The entire room should be cleaned before and after a patient is admitted to hospital according to institutional guidelines.
Unfortunately, hospital curtains are often exempted from these guidelines, and are the most often touched item in a patient’s room.They need to be removed and extensively laundered, which takes up time, reduces patient safety and privacy, and costs the organization more money. A Kwickscreen can be quickly wiped down with any anti-microbial agent as a matter of course during the house keeping routine. The cost, and client safety, savings are obvious.