Five Ways to Reduce Hospital-Associated Infections in the Cardiology Department

Man with gloves on wiping down a cardiology unit with an anti-bacterial wipe.

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.

1. Bolster Your Infection Prevention and Control Policies

There is no shortage of infection control regulations in healthcare today. Applicable regulations for your organization may include:4,5

  • Local or state health authorities
  • Building code requirements
  • Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) requirements
  • Evidence-based guidelines and national standards like the Joint Commission
  • And more

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.

Tip: Lean Into the Hierarchy

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.

Image of a hierarchical approach to properly address the rules and regulations when reviewing or creating infection control policy

2. Identify Sources of Pathogens

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

Tip: Inventory Your Potential Reservoirs

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

  • Door handles
  • Light switches
  • Bedrails
  • Overbed tables
  • Nurse Call buttons
  • Reusable patient care equipment like pumps, monitors and ECGs
  • Personal protective equipment

Once these high-risk sources are identified, the next step is cleaning.

3. Disinfect and Keep Surfaces Clean

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.

Tip: How Can You Limit Cleaning Time?

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.


4. To Glove or Not to Glove? Either Way, Remember Hand Hygiene.

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

Tip: Hand Hygiene Includes Glove Hygiene

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

  • Performing hand hygiene before donning gloves, before touching the patient or their environment, and after removing the gloves10
  • Changing gloves if they become damaged or visibly soiled, between patients, or when moving from a soiled to clean body site on the same patient10
  • Carefully removing gloves to prevent hand contamination10

5. Pay Attention to Keyboards

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.

Tip: Look for Glass ECG Keyboards

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.

traditional keyboard with fingerprint residue underneath blue-light vs ELI 380 glass keyboard with no fingerprints under blue-light

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.


ELI 380 ECG, previously branded as Welch Allyn, Mortara and Burdick, is now a Baxter diagnostic cardiology device facing to the left 3/4 view.
* References
  1. Who launches first ever global report on infection prevention and control (no date) World Health Organization. Available at: (Accessed: 02 August 2023).
  2. Rahmqvist M, Samuelsson A, Bastami S, Rutberg H. Direct health care costs and length of hospital stay related to health care-acquired infections in adult patients based on point prevalence measurements. Am J Infect Control. 2016 May 1;44(5):500-6. doi: 10.1016/j.ajic.2016.01.035. Epub 2016 Mar 14. PMID: 26988332.
  3. Preventing healthcare-associated infections (2015) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Available at: (Accessed: 02 August 2023).
  4. Infection prevention and control hierarchy (no date) The Joint Commission. Available at: (Accessed: 02 August 2023).
  5. April 2019 perspectives - the joint commission. Available at: (Accessed: 02 August 2023).
  6. Monegro AF, Muppidi V, Regunath H. Hospital-Acquired Infections. [Updated 2023 Feb 12]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from:
  7. Steere AC, Mallison GF. Handwashing practices for the prevention of nosocomial infections. Ann Intern Med. 1975 Nov;83(5):683-90. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-83-5-683. PMID: 1200507.
  8. Suleyman G, Alangaden G, Bardossy AC. The Role of Environmental Contamination in the Transmission of Nosocomial Pathogens and Healthcare-Associated Infections. Curr Infect Dis Rep. 2018 Apr 27;20(6):12. doi: 10.1007/s11908-018-0620-2. PMID: 29704133.
  9. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020, October 13). Reduce risk from surfaces. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  10. Healthcare providers (2021) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Available at: (Accessed: 14 July 2023).
  11. Hartmann B, Benson M, Junger A, Quinzio L, Röhrig R, Fengler B, Färber UW, Wille B, Hempelmann G. Computer keyboard and mouse as a reservoir of pathogens in an intensive care unit. J Clin Monit Comput. 2004 Feb;18(1):7-12. doi: 10.1023/b:jocm.0000025279.27084.39. PMID: 15139578.
  12. Ide N, Frogner BK, LeRouge CM, Vigil P, Thompson M. What's on your keyboard? A systematic review of the contamination of peripheral computer devices in healthcare settings. BMJ Open. 2019 Mar 8;9(3):e026437. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2018-026437. PMID: 30852549; PMCID: PMC6429971.