07 May 2018

Three Strategies for Preventing the Spread of Infection

The spread of infection is a risk that every healthcare organization faces, and many would suggest that the best defense against infection is a robust disease prevention strategy to help mitigate the risk of pathogens spreading to staff and other patients. To minimize the risk of infection transmission, organizations should take a systemic approach to keeping their facility safe and clean.

Ensure Proper Waste Disposal

Used needles, contaminated medical supplies and other infectious materials can be a prime source of pathogens. Organizations must be diligent about ensuring this waste is quickly and appropriately thrown away. They should have conveniently placed medical waste containers that are specially designed to safely hold contaminated items until they can be removed from the facility and treated. For example, it is wise to have sharps containers located in patient rooms and by nurses stations so that clinicians can easily dispose of needles and other sharp instruments. Staff should receive regular training about the importance of proper waste disposal and how to comply with facility policies and regulations tied to this issue.

Promote Consistent Hand Hygiene

Scrupulous hand washing is one of the best ways to limit the spread of infection. Unfortunately, even though most healthcare workers acknowledge the value of washing their hands, many do not do it as frequently or as thoroughly as they should. Organizations may want review their hand hygiene protocols and search for improvement opportunities. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers detailed guidelines on the topic, including how long to wash hands and when it is necessary to use soap and water versus alcohol-based hand rubs.

Limit Airborne Threats

Organizations also need methods for minimizing the movement of airborne contaminants, such as influenza. Possible actions include isolating infected patients, distributing masks to individuals with a cough and implementing a respiratory protection program to handle more dangerous pathogens like tuberculosis. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) offers specific guidance on setting up a respiratory protection program, including information on personal protective equipment and training.

Following these steps can go a long way toward mitigating infection transmission risk. Discover how Stericycle can help your organization pursue these strategies.

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