As you read this month’s column it is this time of year when the “Influenza (Flu) season” is at its high peak and “oh so many” wished they would have taken the time to get that preventive flu shot inoculation many weeks back. For those affected with the seasonal “flu bug”, hang in there and remember plenty of fluids and get as much rest as possible.
The buzz this seasonal period in many media reporting outlets will be speaking around the 2017 “Annual State of Progress Report” by the Centers for Disease Control and prevention(CDC). It is highly anticipated again this year that the report chatter will be around healthcare-associated infections (HAI) being again a major, yet often preventable, threat to patient and employee safety. Some of the most common HAI exposures generally spoken to in the annual reporting concentrate around central line-associated bloodstream infections (CLABSI), catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTI), select surgical site infections (SSI), hospital-onset Clostridium difficile infections (CDIFF), and hospital-onset methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteremia bloodstream infections. The HAI data reported and monitored through the federal and state centers for disease control have shown significant reductions reported at the national level the past few years as compared to the previous decade for nearly all infections. CLABSI and SSI show the greatest reduction, with some progress shown in reducing CAUTI, hospital-onset MRSA bacteremia and hospital-onset CDIFF.
So some may say, “What does this mean for HTM service professionals and why should they care?” Well, it means plenty! The most commonly confronted HAI land mines in front of the HTM service professional are MRSA and CDIFF. My experience in both performing and managing medical equipment service reminds me that 100% of the time when a service event is encountered, the medical device’s preparatory disinfection or knowledge of the patient that was associated is typically an unknown. Think about this, when you arrive to the equipment location or pick up of that medical device do you ask if it was disinfected? Do glove up prior to performing “hands-on” disassembly of the device? Do you check for posted infection control signage at the patient room door prior to entering? Perhaps even seek out the nurse or clinical technologist of the area where the medical device is located for instructions and knowledge pertaining to potential infectious environments that may exist in the service location of interest where you have been dispatched to perform HTM services? Do you routinely wash your hands when engaged in medical equipment service tasks? It’s still a proven fact – the #1 infection control prevention practice is hand washing!
Despite progress in education and practices within health care facilities, the nation still has not reached the annual goals as established by the CDC regarding the elimination of HAI. More action is needed at every level of public health and health care to improve patient and employee safety toward the elimination of infections that commonly threaten hospital patients and employees alike.
Be the 2017 HTM foot soldier in this on-going battle – your good health and well-being relies on it!
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