Healthcare professionals are always advised to properly clean their hands and medical devices, as even the slightest breach of proper procedure could lead to a patient developing additional complications or even dying.
Patients are at risk of developing healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) every time they receive medical treatment, regardless of how rigorous a particular facility's procedures are. While about one in every 20 HAIs leads to a treatable infection, such as those involving the blood or a surgical site, others eventually lead to the deaths of patients. The tragic and preventable loss of life is serious enough, but the devastating financial costs are also ruinous to the healthcare community.
Healthcare providers and the U.S. government have acknowledged the importance of curtailing the spread of HAIs, in part through the formation of a government committee in 2008. Members of this committee, including officials from four cabinet departments, have worked together to create nationwide goals involving the reduction of HAIs.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also tracks instances of HAIs, including those that are caused by medical devices that are not used properly, in an annual report conducted since 2006.
"Wherever patient care is provided, adherence to infection prevention guidelines is needed to ensure that all care is safe care," according to the CDC's website. "This includes traditional hospital settings as well as outpatient surgery centers, long-term care facilities, rehabilitation centers, and community clinics."
One Maryland healthcare professional has taken matters into his own hands by developing a digital reader that uses the touch technology found on an iPad to tell a caregiver where their hands are not sufficiently sanitized. Healthcare IT News reports that the system provides immediate feedback to a physician in the form of color-coded graphics.
Whether facilities use similar technology in the future or rely on a hospital consultant to devise proper procedures for preventing HAIs, the stakes are too high for facility managers to ignore a preventable problem.