HAI Risk Falls 22% in US Hospitals

The risk for acute-care hospital patients to get an HAI has decreased 22% from 2011 to 2015.

However, this comes as a bit of a mixed blessing, as most of the reduction in HAIs was due to reductions in surgical site infections.

Risks of other conditions such as pneumonia remain almost unchanged.

In other words, healthcare institutions still have work to do in making their facilities cleaner and more sanitary. Currently, the CDC says 1.7 million Americans get an HAI each year, with 99,000 resulting in patient deaths. It also leads to $20 billion in additional healthcare costs.

How can your professional healthcare organization prevent HAIs?

Here’s what you can do:

  • Make It an Organization-Wide Strategic Initiative

Other patients, medical professionals, and your building itself can all transmit HAIs to your patients.

Typically, there’s not a single cause of HAIs at any one healthcare organization. Hand hygiene frequently plays a role, so it should be near the top of your list of things to address.

But, other factors like how you contact patients, the frequency of doing so, and your decontamination processes play a role too.

You have to analyze all these factors and processes, and design and implement ones that mitigate the risks yours have traditionally caused.

  • Measure And Understand Your Current Baseline

This one won’t be easy. But, you must have a method for knowing your current patient HAI rate to the best of your ability.

You can only improve if you know what’s happening right now.

Then, determine when you’ll follow up in the future with measuring. This most likely would be on an annual basis, or perhaps less frequently.

  • Simple Things You Can Check and Implement

That National Institutes of Mental Health offers a handbook that offers basics on preventing HAIs.

This includes the proper use of personal protective equipment. This also includes proper removal when leaving areas where patients are cared for. They note that during the 2003 outbreak of SARS in Canada, 44% affected employees. Just 9 had formal infection control training. 13 didn’t know how to wear or remove their PPE. 6 reused medical equipment. 8 had awareness of a breach of infection control precautions.

Finally, despite all the education health care workers have, they frequently don’t adhere to infection control precautions.

Knowledge Really Is Power…and So Is Training

For the most part, it boils down to really simple stuff with HAIs. Yes, it’s hard to implement and enforce procedures across many employees.

But it saves lives, makes patients happier, saves you money, and improves your reputation.

So take these tips to heart, and talk with your health care workers and cleaning team to create a plan that nearly eliminates the risk of HAIs for your patients.

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