3 infection control, safety priorities for hospitals in 2019

Here are three infection control and workplace safety issues hospitals should focus on in 2019, according to Rosie D. Lyles, MD, director of clinical affairs at Medline:

1. Non-ventilator hospital-acquired pneumonia. NV-HAP is one of the most common hospital-acquired infections in the U.S. The infection has been long associated with elderly patients in the intensive care unit, but now, many NV-HAP patients are under age 65 and not in the ICU, according to a 2018 study published in the American Journal of Infection Control. Dr. Lyles noted no mandated requirements currently exist to monitor or report cases of NV-HAP.

"With oral bacteria replicating five times every 24 hours, we want to make sure that the same thing we're doing for decolonizing the patient's skin with chlorhexidine gluconate or prepping the skin with povidone-iodine, we're doing for the mouth with an antiseptic like chlorhexidine gluconate," she told Becker's. "Providing oral care four times a day can decrease the risk of contracting NV-HAP."

2. Hazardous drugs. Nearly 8 million healthcare workers are potentially exposed to hazardous drugs annually, according to the CDC. The U.S. Pharmacopeia's new guidelines for the safe handling of these substances — which will affect any healthcare worker touching, cleaning up or administering a hazardous drug — are set to take effect in December 2019.

"In the same way we're protecting our patients, healthcare workers need to protect themselves to ensure hazardous drugs aren't getting into their system," Dr. Lyles said. "It's critical that the appropriate protective gear be worn, from caps to goggles, gloves, face masks, to also wearing a gown that won't penetrate the hazardous drugs into the actual gown itself. Additionally, ongoing education for donning and doffing is essential."

3. Contaminated hospital surfaces. As contaminated surfaces contribute to the transmission of hospital pathogens, hospitals must have a systematic cleaning regimen coupled with the right supplies to help prevent the spread of infection.

"Consider switching to microfiber clothes as cotton cloths tend to bind to the disinfectants, leaving them less effective when applying them to the surface," Dr. Lyles said. "When trying to stay in front of pathogens, it's critical that the cleaning regimen be part of the daily routine and that facilities use products registered with the Environmental Protection Agency."

More articles on clinical leadership and infection control:
Safety concerns remain as surgeons explore robot-assisted breast cancer operations
How Sentara hospitals used copper to drop infection rates
National Geographic to develop 6-part miniseries on Ebola

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