Annals of Long-Term Care: Clinical Care and Aging. 2016;24(11):38-39.
A recent article examined how combating healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) through concentrated efforts by all long-term care facility (LTCF) personnel and its outside vendors can better mitigate the risk of spreading life-threatening infections.
The most recent statistics estimate that 1 to 3 million serious infections occur every year in LTCFs, including but not limited to urinary tract infection, diarrheal diseases, and antibiotic-resistant staph infections. In addition, these infections are a major cause of hospitalization and death; as many as 380,000 people die of infections in LTCFs every year, according to Thom Wellington, co-founder of Infection Control University.
HAIs are preventable and often caused by poor facility conditions or human error. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention research shows that when facility staff and vendor employees are aware of infection problems and take specific steps to prevent them, HAI rates can decrease by more than 70%.
Awareness, though, is not enough; training must be provided along with infection control and prevention programs. A New Hampshire study found that there are 75% fewer Infection Preventionists (IPs) in LTCFs than in acute-care facilities. More commonly, the IPs in LTCFs have multiple responsibilities and can only devote limited time to infection prevention practices. According to the same study, only 10% of the assigned IPs in LTCFs have any specific infection control prevention training, whereas 95% of acute-care IPs have the appropriate training.
Mr Wellington said a LTCF can implement a “facility-wide training model that can be accessed by vendors 24/7 to ensure that the staff is well-educated to make a difference and improve patient care….Address issues that healthcare staff members encounter on a daily basis to eliminate reoccurrence.” Every vendor employee that enters the facility should have completed the training courses and learned about their role in HAI prevention.
In conclusion, HAIs require a multidisciplinary approach using all LTCF personnel and its outside vendors. Proactive risk management can decrease HAI rates, improve patient satisfaction scores, and, most importantly, save patient lives.—Amanda Del Signore