Ask the Care Expert about ... infections

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Sherrie Dornberger, RNC, CDONA, FACDONA, executive director, NADONA
Sherrie Dornberger, RNC, CDONA, FACDONA, executive director, NADONA

It seems like we are now making a bigger deal out of infections in the long-term post-acute care settings. How many infections occur in long-term post-acute care? What is the No. 1 infection, and who ultimately is in charge of the infection control program over the entire facility?

Some of these answers may surprise you. There are 1 million to 3 million infections reported annually in long-term care, with the most common infection reported as urinary tract infections.

One of the reasons blamed for this UTI problem is there is only a 40% compliance rate with hand hygiene nationwide. Encourage residents and staff to always wash their hands before and after using the restroom, blowing their nose or coughing.

Some facilities allow their staff to bring in nice, pretty-smelling alcohol gel products that they pick up at their local drug store. If you do this, take a look at the product contents. Alcohol-based hand hygiene agents should have formulations consisting of 60% to 90% concentrations of alcohol in order to meet the evidence-based recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

While many people would answer that the infection prevention practitioner would be the person in charge of hand hygiene, you asked who ultimately is responsible. That's the administrator or executive director. Since this is the person who has ultimate control over the facility, he or she is in control facility-wide. 

The infection preventionist serves as a consultant, coach and partner to all departments within the facility. Everyone needs to work together where infection prevention is concerned to make the program work efficiently and effectively.