Ask the nursing expert ... about infection prevention

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Angel McGarrity-Davis, RN, CDONA, NHA
Angel McGarrity-Davis, RN, CDONA, NHA

What are some of the things we can do to prevent infections?

Knowing that microorganisms can last from weeks to months on surfaces and transmission is most likely spread by poor hand hygiene person-to-person and from environmental contamination, facilities need to improve environmental hygiene and enhance the efficacy of cleaning.

Common disinfection issues are related to common surfaces and objects such as privacy curtains, bedside tables, mattresses, equipment for vital signs, glucose monitors, hand rails, door knobs, room light switches, toilet handles, toilet seats, call buttons, telephones and bed rails. Dressing changes also are associated with infections.

Another factor to consider is the type of disinfectant being used: Make sure it is able to kill the threatening microorganisms, especially when rooms previously were occupied by an infected patient. 

When trying to contain an outbreak, it is imperative to increase surveillance, tracking and trending. You should do reports with mapping, notify the department of health, and be diligent with charting, contact precautions, kitchen QA and I, and dining room best practices. Therapy and activities should be closed for the sick patients. Increase hydration rounds, undertake public restroom cleaning several times a day, make use of pocket sanitizer, urge visitor hand washing, wash the resident's hands more frequently,  and educate all visitors not to come in if they have any symptoms.

Remember QAPI (Quality Assurance and Performance Improvement) equates to positive patient outcomes. Evaluate cleaning effectiveness, procedure development, selection of products and tools, and implementation of the training/competencies from evidenced-based programs.