26 Jun Control Infections with Well-Trained Staff
The number of healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) has risen alarmingly in the past few years. Reported incidents of noncompliance with IC.02.02.01 rose from an industry average of 20 percent of all reported cases in 2009 to approximately 60 percent in 2016. Reports submitted to the Joint Commission’s Office of Quality and Patient Safety indicate that often, infections occur when insufficiently trained staff fail to adequately sterilize medical equipment. Building and maintaining a comprehensive staff training protocol for infection control will ensure that healthcare facilities avoid inadvertently exposing their patients to unnecessary illness risks.
Many Causes for the Spread of Infections
The Joint Commission report also reveals that many of the centers that experienced HAI’s often also suffered from a culture that was not vigilant about maintaining appropriate levels of sanitation in their clinical settings.
- In some cases, staff simply hadn’t had sufficient training to understand how their actions contributed to the problem.
- In other cases, while the facility had trained its in-house staff, its vendors had not offered similar training to their employees who worked at the health care site.
- In still other cases, the facility didn’t adequately quarantine infected items or failed to monitor sterilization practices to ensure infections didn’t spread.
In short, the Joint Commission reports reveal that lax attention or inadequate education at several points within the clinical continuum can result in the spread of infectious diseases throughout a hospital community.
A Unique and Growing Threat
Compounding the problem are the growing list of drug-resistant organisms and the specificity of health related products in use in today’s medical facilities. Staff of every kind must be alert to the cleaning fluids they use on the specific types of bacterial or fungal material they encounter; what works on one contaminant won’t work on others. How the disease spreads is also a challenge; airborne disease is harder to manage than are bacterial or viral materials on surfaces.
Consequently, the need for education encompasses not just the identification of infectious substances, but also the methodology required to contain those substances while remaining vigilant about potential new contaminants coming in the clinic door.
Infection Control Education Works
All health care facilities benefit from regularly scheduled infection control training, and the practice enhances more than just the activities on the clinic floor.
- For the administration, a standardized training protocol underscores the importance of infection control as a priority for all aspects of the medical center, from the office of the CEO to the maintenance worker’s storage closet. Establishing a culture that prioritizes sanitation and infection prevention should reduce the number of such infections in the future.
- For in-house staff, regular training emphasizes best practices while offering the opportunity to update protocols and methods.
- For vendor staff, regular training, especially when done in conjunction with clinic staff, builds rapport between workers and creates a common goal for every person who works in the proximity of infectious diseases.
The Joint Commission offers several suggestions for improving and proving adequate infection prevention practices. For clinics looking for advanced training opportunities, Infection Control Results (infectioncntrolresults.com) offers training modules for both novice and experienced health care workers, as well as on-site inspections and assessments.