Infection control is top of mind in hospitals everywhere — and for good reason. For every 100 patients admitted to hospitals, 7-15 will acquire at least one hospital-associated infection (HAI) during their stay.1
HAIs lead to longer admissions, more frequent readmissions and poorer patient outcomes — including increased mortality.2 Yet while these infections are pervasive, many are preventable.3 Here are five strategies that may help in Cardiology and throughout your organization.
There is no shortage of infection control regulations in healthcare today. Applicable regulations for your organization may include:4,5
These regulations span care settings, procedure types, equipment and more. Each set of guidance offers a unique perspective — but it’s important to take all applicable regulations into account, rather than picking and choosing.
To help cover all the bases, the Joint Commission recommends taking a hierarchical approach to properly address the many types of regulations that may apply to your facility.5 When reviewing or creating your infection control policy, an approach like this may help you identify and apply the proper rules and regulations.
HAIs, or nosocomial infections, can originate from any number of sources. Central venous catheters, catheter-associated urinary tract infections and ventilator-associated pneumonia are major sources6 — but nosocomial infections can also be transmitted via medical personnel’s hands7 or through direct contact with contaminated surfaces.8
To help reduce person-to-person or surface-to-person spread, consider the many high-touch surfaces throughout a patient’s room. These may include:9
Once these high-risk sources are identified, the next step is cleaning.
Maintenance teams should follow established checklists when cleaning patient rooms and common areas. When it comes to medical devices, instructions and cleaning agents matter. Always refer to the manufacturer’s user manuals, instructions for use or cleaning instructions to determine proper cleaning agents and procedures.
Look for opportunities to reduce the amount of equipment that enters the patient room. For example, some ECGs feature wireless acquisition modules — so you can bring in just the acquisition module and leave the ECG device and cart outside. After completing the exam, you need only disinfect the acquisition module, rather than the entire device.
CDC Standard Precautions state that clinicians should wear gloves when they can reasonably anticipate coming into contact with blood or other potentially infectious materials, mucous membranes, broken skin, or potentially contaminated skin or equipment.10
Whether or not your clinicians wear gloves during procedures like ECG exams, it is important to remember that gloves are not a substitute for hand hygiene. The CDC recommends:10
Research has shown that three bacteria commonly found in hospital environments can survive on keyboards — all of which are resistant to antibiotics.11 Common fixtures in patient rooms, keyboards can harbor pathogens in computer workstations or medical devices.
What kind of keyboard do your ECG and other diagnostic devices have? In a study that tested keyboards in medical, surgical and ICU units for infection, 97% of the keyboards were found to be contaminated with a variety of pathogenic bacteria including MRSA.12 Flat-surface keyboards (such as the glass keyboard on the ELI 380 Resting ECG) take less time to clean than traditional keyboards, and they allow you to remove more residue upon cleaning,11 minimizing the risk of cross-contamination.
Unfortunately, HAIs aren’t likely to become less of an issue any time soon. But with sound protocols, regular training and the right equipment, you can spend less time worrying about them, and more time caring for your patients. We’re here to help. Get to know our diagnostic cardiology solutions like the ELI 380 Resting ECG, then reach out to explore how we can help you improve patient care and infection control at your hospital.
Learn more about how Baxter’s ELI 380 ECG’s features can help with infection control in your cardiology department.