Four Steps to Prevent Healthcare-Associated Infections at Your Organizations

November 18, 2016 Howard Nussman

Nearly two million healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) occur in the U.S. each year and nearly 100,000 people die from them. Clinicians are continuously taking precautionary steps to prevent HAIs, however these numbers remain high. Why? Because precision matters and the smallest error could result in the loss of a life.

According to recent survey results, healthcare workers have varying degrees of understanding when it comes to how their daily tasks can help prevent HAIs, including compliance. The most common non-compliant standard is IC.02.02.01, the high level disinfection or sterilization of medical equipment. According the survey results around compliance for this standard:

  • 59 percent of hospitals were non-compliant
  • 73 percent of critical access hospitals were non-compliant
  • 49 percent of ambulatory care facilities were non-compliant

The importance of disinfection and sterilization of medical equipment is widely known in the healthcare industry but the process requires rigorous and precise attention to preparing scopes and dirty surgical instruments for disinfection or sterilization.

Driven by the goal of eliminating HAIs, healthcare leaders and regulatory surveyors have realized the importance of the instructions for use on enzymatic detergents. Providers now know that:

  • There’s a specific ratio of enzymatic detergent to water that is most effective.
  • The water needs to be within a certain temperature range for some detergents.
  • A Transesophageal Echocardiography probe has to soak in a high level disinfecting solution to ensure that disinfection is complete, and that solution needs to be a certain concentration level and temperature.

Today, healthcare workers and training staff are increasingly incorporating these instructions into their work. So what can you do to accelerate this process and ensure your healthcare organization stays compliant? Here are a few steps you can take:

  • Create a passion for doing no harm by staying informed on how to prevent HAIs and making it a priority.
  • Take steps to reduce the number of people involved in these critical processes – centralize the activity as much as you can.
  • Use tools of lean and high reliability to train and support workers:
    • Document standardized work processes that are simple and easy to follow
    • Post standard work steps in plain view
    • Re-train and validate competencies of managers, lead techs and staff who perform the work
    • Invest in technology that eliminates manual steps (e.g., mixers that deliver the required ratio of chemical to water plus an electronic reading of the water temperature, scope washers that regulate the disinfectant temperature and soak times, etc.)
  • Monitor performance on a routine basis and hold staff accountable for being precise and following the standard work

By putting the processes related to high level disinfection and sterilization under the microscope now, and applying the principles of lean and high reliability, you can save lives, improve care and generate a healthy return on investment when your next accreditation survey rolls around.

To learn more about what steps your organization can take to stay compliant, CLICK HERE.

Author information

Howard Nussman

Howard Nussman

Principal, Premier Performance Partner at Premier, Inc.

I’m a quality and safety consultant from North Carolina who works with healthcare organizations in need of coaching, consultation and training in performance improvement and regulatory requirements. When I’m not working, you’ll find me running or finding some way to engage and serve with the youth at my church. Connect with me on LinkedIn.


The post Four Steps to Prevent Healthcare-Associated Infections at Your Organizations appeared first on Action For Better Healthcare.

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