What’s New in the Patient Safety World


November 2009

Ten Ways to Prevent Healthcare-Associated Infections


That prestigious medical journal, The Wall Street Journal, recently had an article “Ten Steps to Preventing Infection in Hospitals”. It contained some traditional interventions (hand hygiene, use of checklists, use of all-inclusive kits for common procedures like central line insertion, use of good oral care to prevent VAP, daily chlorhexidine baths, state reporting of infection rates, and use of rapid testing to identify various pathogens. But, probably because the WSJ is primarily still a business journal, it highlighted several new promising technologies in infection control.


One was a solution with fluorescent markers that was used to demonstrate for cleaning staff the areas they did not clean well. Staff did a great job cleaning toilets but a poor job on door knobs, light switches, telephones, nurse call buttons, bedrails, etc. Showing the results to the cleaning crews significantly improved their performance.


Another is a special unit being developed at Johns Hopkins called SUDS. This is a shower-sized cubicle that fogs equipment with disinfectants and seems to do a better job at getting at hard-to-reach things like EKG wires.


And another is data mining and computer surveillance for infections, using algorithms plus data from hospital admission, discharge and transfer systems and laboratory data to identify patterns and identify opportunities to intervene earlier to prevent infections.




Simon, Stephanie. Ten Steps to Preventing Infection in Hospitals. Too many patients get sick in the very places that are supposed to heal them. The Wall Street Journal. October 27, 2009















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