The Future of Infection Prevention

This member-only article appears in the December issue of Patient Safety Monitor Journal.

By Lena Browning, MHA, BSN, RN, a consultant at Compass Clinical Consulting

Healthcare organizations are feeling the repercussions of noncompliance when it comes to infection prevention. For several years now, the most cited clinical standard in hospitals, critical access hospitals, and ambulatory healthcare by The Joint Commission has been IC.02.02.01: The hospital reduces the risk of infections associated with medical equipment, devices, and supplies.
According to The Joint Commission, the most common reasons for noncompliance include:
Not following current, nationally accepted, evidence-based guidelines and manufacturers’ instructions for use
Orientation, training, and assessments of staff competency not conducted by an individual qualified to do so
Lack of quality assurance process
Lack of collaboration with infection prevention professionals
No pre-cleaning at point of use
Recordkeeping: Incomprehensible or non-standardized logs, incomplete documentation, and lack of bidirectional tracing of scopes and/or surgical instruments
Inconsistent processes in performing high-level disinfection and sterilization such as handling, transporting, and cleaning reusable instruments

As infection prevention challenges evolve—such as emerging infectious organisms and resistance—healthcare organizations must focus on preventing hospital-acquired infections and ensuring better patient outcomes. To achieve these goals, infection prevention professionals must be involved in all decisions affecting the delivery of patient care. Healthcare is ever-changing, and innovative approaches are critical as we look to the future of infection prevention.

On the surface
As innovative technology is developed and new processes are implemented to prevent hospital-acquired infections (HAI), infection prevention professionals need support from leadership, as well as a strong collaboration with all service lines. When conducting infection prevention and control risk assessments, hospitals may consider the following innovative techniques for preventing HAIs:
Implement “no touch” systems that use UVA light or hydrogen peroxide mist to disinfect patient care areas
Use disinfecting wipes that change color indicating when contact time is met and surfaces are completely covered to effectively kill microorganisms
Implement continuous visible light technology in patient care areas
When possible, use disposable non-critical, semi-critical, and critical devices instead of reprocessing these types of devices
Implement a central surveillance program for infection control programs
Implement quality checks at established intervals (adenosine triphosphate bioluminescence, chemical reagent tests)

In addition to the above innovative techniques, robust collaboration among infection prevention, nursing, environment of care, and leadership is imperative to effectively monitor quality assurance and minimize the potential risks of infection transmission.

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