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.
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.