Formal, written policies can help long-term care facilities avoid healthcare-associated infections, experts say

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Gail Bennett, MSN, RN
Gail Bennett, MSN, RN

Long-term care organizations must practice diligent adherence to hand hygiene regimens and establish clear, written protocols for containing and preventing healthcare-acquired infections (HAIs), experts recommended during a webinar Wednesday.

Vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus and Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) can live up to 58 days and nine weeks, respectively, said ICP Associates President Gail Bennett, MSN, RN, during a McKnight's webcast. Because these bugs can survive so long, it's important that every worker in a facility knows what they're responsible for cleaning and disinfecting. This can help contain an outbreak or prevent one from happening, Bennett noted.

In recent years, surveyors increasingly have been looking more closely at how nursing home staff clean and disinfect blood glucose monitors, Bennett and PDI's J. Hudson Garrett Jr., Ph.D. said.

“Blood glucose monitors have to be cleaned between use,” Garrett said.

Bennett recommended observing the manufacturer's recommendations on disinfection methods, and making sure the disinfection process is compliant with OSHA standards.

She said transmission of hepatitis B has been associated with improperly cleaned glucose meters, too.

“Skilled nursing facilities don't want to be known for this, but transmission rates are increasing. It's been an issue we're all dealing with.”