5 ways to prevent infection spread in waiting rooms

Many healthcare clinics' and hospitals' waiting rooms have been crowded in recent weeks, thanks in part to a severe flu season. For the week ending Jan. 3, 5.6 percent of patient visits reported through the U.S. Outpatient Influenza-like Illness Surveillance Network were due to an influenza-like illness, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

While some physicians are turning to telemedicine to diagnose the flu to minimize the spread of the illness, that is not always an option. Healthcare provider organizations can take steps to keep the spread of contagious disease to a minimum.

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"While telemedicine may be an option for some doctor's offices, it is critical that all clinics, including urgent care settings across the country, create safer waiting rooms to help protect against the spread of the influenza virus," said Martie Moore, RN, CNO of Medline Industries.

Ms. Moore suggests taking the following five precautions to make waiting rooms as safe as possible for patients:

  • Make hand sanitizer accessible in high-traffic areas
  • Offer an antiviral face mask to patients and healthcare workers
  • Use germ-killing wipes on high-contact surfaces
  • Review containment plans and keep patients with flu-like symptoms away from others
  • Follow hand hygiene compliance standards

Correction: An earlier version of this story misquoted Ms. Moore as saying "create safety waiting rooms." The quote has been updated to read "create safer waiting rooms." We regret this error.

More articles on infection control:
ECRI Institute: Disinfecting robots could be worth the investment
Infection control efforts at Central Florida hospitals pay off
CDC: Antivirals are underutilized to fight the flu

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