What Are Transmission-Based Precautions for Nursing Homes?

transmission-based precautions

What Are Transmission-Based Precautions for Nursing Homes?

Nursing homes play a crucial role in caring for vulnerable populations, including older adults and individuals with underlying health conditions. Infection control is of utmost importance in these facilities to prevent the spread of diseases among residents, staff, and visitors. One essential aspect of infection control in nursing homes is the implementation of transmission-based precautions. In this article, we will explore what transmission-based precautions are, why they are necessary, and how they are applied in nursing home settings.

Understanding Transmission-Based Precautions

transmission-based precautions

Transmission-based precautions are a set of preventive measures implemented to halt the transmission of infectious agents from one person to another. These precautions are utilized when standard precautions alone may not be sufficient to contain the spread of specific pathogens. By implementing transmission-based precautions, long-term care centers can effectively mitigate the risk of infections and protect the health and well-being of their residents.

There are three primary types of transmission-based precautions:

Contact Precautions

These precautions are used when the infectious agent can be transmitted through direct or indirect contact. Examples of infections that require contact precautions include:

  • Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)
  • Vancomycin-resistant Enterococci (VRE)
  • Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)
  • Diarrheal illnesses
  • Draining wounds

Droplet Precautions

Droplet precautions are employed when the infectious agent is spread through respiratory droplets produced by coughing, sneezing, or talking. Diseases such as pneumonia, influenza, whooping cough, and bacterial meningitis necessitate the implementation of droplet precautions.

Airborne Precautions

Airborne precautions are crucial when the infectious agent is capable of being suspended in the air and transmitted over long distances. Examples of diseases requiring airborne precautions include tuberculosis, measles, disseminated shingles, and chickenpox.

Importance of Transmission-Based Precautions in Nursing Homes

In nursing homes, where residents often live in close proximity and have underlying health conditions, the implementation of transmission-based precautions is particularly critical. Older adults and individuals with compromised immune systems are more susceptible to infections, and the consequences can be severe. By adhering to transmission-based precautions, nursing homes can minimize the risk of outbreaks and protect their residents from potentially life-threatening infections.

Transmission-based precautions also safeguard the well-being of healthcare workers and visitors in nursing homes. By following these precautions, healthcare workers can reduce their chances of contracting and spreading infections. Visitors who adhere to these precautions contribute to the overall safety of the facility and help protect vulnerable residents.

Implementing Transmission-Based Precautions in Nursing Homes

The application of transmission-based precautions in nursing homes requires a comprehensive and systematic approach. Here are some key components of their implementation:

Identification and Isolation

The first step in implementing transmission-based precautions is early identification of residents who require these precautions. This may involve conducting assessments, reviewing medical records, and consulting with healthcare professionals. Once identified, residents who require transmission-based precautions should be placed in the appropriate room to prevent the spread of infection. Residents requiring TBP should remain in their room and not participate in group activities.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Proper use of personal protective equipment is essential in preventing the transmission of infectious agents. Nursing home staff should be trained on the correct selection, proper wear, donning, and doffing of PPE. PPE may include gloves, masks, gowns, face shields, and goggles, depending on the type of precautions required. Adequate supplies of PPE should be readily available in nursing homes to ensure the safety of both residents and staff.

Hand Hygiene

Hand hygiene is a fundamental aspect of infection control and should be practiced consistently by all healthcare workers in nursing homes. Regular handwashing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using alcohol-based hand sanitizers is crucial in reducing the transmission of pathogens. Nursing homes should provide easy access to hand hygiene facilities, including sinks and hand sanitizers, throughout the facility (e.g., common spaces, nursing units).

Environmental Cleaning and Disinfection

Thorough and regular cleaning and disinfection of the environment is vital in preventing the spread of infections in nursing homes. High-touch surfaces such as doorknobs, lightswitches. handrails, bed rails, and tables should be cleaned and disinfected frequently. Nursing homes should use EPA-registered disinfectants and follow manufacturer instructions for proper application and contact or dwell time. Additionally, special attention should be given to areas where residents requiring transmission-based precautions are situated.

Respiratory Hygiene and Cough Etiquette

Promoting respiratory hygiene and cough etiquette among residents, staff, and visitors is crucial in preventing the spread of respiratory infections. This includes covering the mouth and nose with a tissue or the elbow when coughing or sneezing, disposing of tissues properly, and performing hand hygiene afterward. Nursing homes should provide tissues, no-touch receptacles for used tissues, and education on respiratory hygiene practices.

Visitor Policies

Nursing homes should have clear visitor policies that outline the expectations and requirements for visitors regarding transmission-based precautions. These policies may include restrictions on visitation during outbreaks, screening visitors for symptoms, and mandating the use of PPE. By enforcing visitor policies, nursing homes can minimize the introduction and spread of infections within their facilities.

Staff Education and Training

Proper education and training of nursing home staff are integral to the successful implementation of transmission-based precautions. Staff should be knowledgeable about the different types of precautions, their indications, and the correct procedures for using PPE. Ongoing training with competency assessment and regular updates on infection control practices can help ensure consistent compliance with transmission-based precautions.

Monitoring and Surveillance

Regular monitoring (auditing and documenting) of infection control practices and adherence to transmission-based precautions are essential in identifying potential gaps or areas for improvement. Nursing homes should establish processes for monitoring hand hygiene compliance, environmental cleaning, and proper use of PPE. This information can guide targeted interventions and reinforce infection control protocols.

To determine if a resident should be moved to a private room or what to do when private rooms are not available, see ‘What Are the Guidelines for Patient Placement & Visitor Management to Prevent Infections?’

Infection Control in Nursing Homes

transmission-based precautions

Transmission-based precautions are a critical component of infection control in nursing homes. By implementing these precautions, nursing homes can protect their residents, staff, and visitors from the spread of infectious agents. Identification and isolation of residents, proper use of PPE, hand hygiene, environmental cleaning, and visitor policies are key elements of implementing transmission-based precautions.

Through education, training, and monitoring, nursing homes can maintain a safe and healthy environment for their residents and enhance overall infection control practices. To learn more about transmission-based precautions and infection control in nursing homes, contact Infection Control Results today.