Interventions Prevent Infections

Think of all the instruments, equipment and furniture in a hospital operating room. Any of these surfaces can harbor microorganisms that cause infection. At Fletcher Allen Health Care, an academic and university medical center in Burlington, Vt., infection prevention includes multifaceted interventions and involves everyone in the hospital. The 562-bed facility “uses evidence-based practices throughout the entire patient experience” for all surgeries to prevent infections, according to Sally Hess, infection prevention manager. In addition to understanding the epidemiology of infected cases, screening and educating patients before surgery and improving perioperative practices, hospital staff focuses on the environment: air quality, instruments and room cleanliness. First step was standardizing practices for the environmental services (ES) and OR teams and doing refresher training as needed. No detail was too small, so disinfectants were evaluated and the OR and ES staffs started using microfiber mops and cloths. Staff also developed and implemented a protocol for identifying critical surfaces for testing, regularly monitoring cleanliness and providing feedback—all part of an incentive and reward program. Since the ES staff spoke many languages, visual cues were provided in closets and on carts. Staff also began using an ES/OR daily communication log and conducting ES/OR monthly rounding. As a result, effective cleaning has held steady at about 98% of surfaces since October 2011.

Think of all the instruments, equipment and furniture in a hospital operating room. Any of these surfaces can harbor microorganisms that cause infection. At Fletcher Allen Health Care, an academic and university medical center in Burlington, Vt., infection prevention includes multifaceted interventions and involves everyone in the hospital. The 562-bed facility “uses evidence-based practices throughout the entire patient experience” for all surgeries to prevent infections, according to Sally Hess, infection prevention manager. In addition to understanding the epidemiology of infected cases, screening and educating patients before surgery and improving perioperative practices, hospital staff focuses on the environment: air quality, instruments and room cleanliness. First step was standardizing practices for the environmental services (ES) and OR teams and doing refresher training as needed. No detail was too small, so disinfectants were evaluated and the OR and ES staffs started using microfiber mops and cloths. Staff also developed and implemented a protocol for identifying critical surfaces for testing, regularly monitoring cleanliness and providing feedback—all part of an incentive and reward program. Since the ES staff spoke many languages, visual cues were provided in closets and on carts. Staff also began using an ES/OR daily communication log and conducting ES/OR monthly rounding. As a result, effective cleaning has held steady at about 98% of surfaces since October 2011.
For more information, contact Hess at sally.ness@vtmednet.org.

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