Preventing HAIs in long-term care

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Tina Beskie
Tina Beskie

Preventing the spread of MRSA, CRE and other hospital-acquired infections(HAIs) is quickly becoming a top priority in skilled nursing and long-term care facilities. Caregivers need to be ever vigilant to ensure that hands are washed, gloves are worn, personal protective equipment procedures are followed and a litany of other precautions are taken to protect patients, their families, and themselves. In addition to the human cost, nosocomial infections  in the U.S. add approximately $40,000 in medical costs per patient due to longer hospital stays, readmission, and further treatment.¹

Residents living with diabetes have weakened immune systems that make them more susceptible to MRSA and other antibiotic-resistant infections. Those in skilled nursing and long-term care facilities are especially vulnerable, as this population is prone to developing skin wounds that easily spread bacteria. In fact, 85% of MRSA outbreaks occur in healthcare facilities.

The CDC recommends that facilities pay particular atttention to cross-contamination points--the surfaces touched by an infected patient which become the main vectors for the spread of MRSA, C. diff, and VRE. Studies have shown that a surprisingly high percentage of presumed-clean blood pressure cuffs that are shared among patients [in our facilities] house these organisms …² As a result, the CDC has issued guidelines … recommending the use of single-patient blood pressure cuffs.³

We often overlook disinfecting procedures on our vital signs monitoring equipment because we are using disposable thermometer probe covers. Shared cuffs can become an infection risk and a time-consuming disinfection procedure nightmare. Studies show that when each resident has their own blood pressure cuff, the risk of healthcare-associated infections drops significantly.² 

The main obstacles in introducing these cuffs to the LTC insuctry have been concerns about cost and durability. 

Low-cost, high comfort personal cuffs are now available in an array of sizes to ensure that the cuff delivers optimum blood pressure measurements for each individual. This generation of personal cuffs delivers a life cycle of more than 200 readings and can be used throughout a resident's stay without the risk of passing infection to another patient.
References:
¹ - Prevention of Cross Transmission of Microorganisms is Essential to Preventing Outbreaks of Hospital Acquired Infections. David Schwegman, MD., Assistant Professor of Medicine, Emory University
² -Longitudinal Evaluation of Neonatal Nosocomial Infections: association of infection with blood pressure cuff. Martin G. Myers, M.D.
³ -http://www.cdc.gov/mrsa/prevent/healthcare/precautions.html

Tina Beskie is the vice president of business development and marketing at Nurse Rosie.

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