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Norovirus Prevention in Healthcare Settings

Categories: Healthcare-associated infections

Tara MacCannell, PhD

Tara MacCannell, PhD

Author: Taranisia MacCannell, PhD, MSc
Epidemiologist in CDC’s Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion

Norovirus is a common cause of gastroenteritis, inflammation of the stomach and small and large intestines, that can include symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, and stomach pain. Approximately 21 million illnesses caused by norovirus are estimated to occur each year in the United States. Although, norovirus can strike any age group, the elderly and hospitalized patients who are immune compromised are particularly vulnerable to this infection. CDC has investigated numerous outbreaks of norovirus in hospitals and in long-term care facilities. Norovirus infection may result in prolonged hospital stays, cause other medical complications, and, in rare cases, can result in death. Unfortunately, there is no vaccine or specific medical treatment available for norovirus infection, making preventing the spread of these infections in healthcare facilities so critical.

CDC and the Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee (HICPAC) have recently released a new guideline aimed at providing clinicians and infection control personnel with a step-by-step resource to assist them preventing an outbreak of norovirus in their healthcare facilities.

New Online Training Video to Prevent Healthcare-Associated Infections

Categories: Healthcare-associated infections

Don Wright, M.D., M.P.H.

Don Wright, M.D., M.P.H.

Author – Don Wright, M.D., M.P.H.
Deputy Assistant Secretary for Healthcare Quality
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

At any given time, one in 20 patients in the U.S. has a hospital-acquired infection – leading to the loss of tens of thousands of lives and costing the healthcare system billions of dollars each year. But this is changing, thanks to a new initiative geared towards improving patient safety, with new resources and tools to help medical communities lower hospital acquired infections and save lives.

One such tool is a new training video for medical students and professionals. In response to stakeholder requests for resources, HHS recently released an interactive video Partnering to Heal: Teaming Up Against Healthcare-Associated Infections to promote a culture of safety in healthcare settings. This interactive, computer-based training allows students and clinicians to make decisions based on different characters’ life experiences in healthcare settings and situations and learn from their outcomes, both positive and negative. A facilitator’s guide accompanies the training for classroom or small group use.

Watch this short clip to see what it’s about.

HHS offers the training at no cost to professional schools and healthcare facilities to train students and staff, as well as to the general public. Over time, we anticipate that Partnering to Heal and similar products will enable healthcare providers and patients to form stronger partnerships to prevent healthcare-associated infections and similar adverse events. Promoting proven, protective behaviors, such as hand washing, appropriate use of antibiotics, prompt removal of catheters and other medical devices, and flu vaccination can help to reduce preventable infections.

Hand Hygiene CAN Save a Patient’s Life

Categories: Hand Hygiene, Healthcare-associated infections

Armando and Victoria Nahum

Armando and Victoria Nahum

Author – Victoria Nahum
Co-Founder and Director
Safe Care Campaign (Atlanta, Georgia)

My name is Victoria Nahum. Almost 5 years ago, my husband Armando and I learned the hardest lesson of our lives. We learned that losing our 27 year old son Joshua to a healthcare-associated infection didn’t have to happen; even worse, his untimely death may have been prevented by some simple steps we wish we would have known back then. [Read Josh’s story.]

Perhaps the bitter knowledge that he did not die of his original diagnosis (injuries from a skydiving accident), but died instead of what health experts tell us was most likely preventable (a Gram-negative infection he caught during his care) is the hardest thing we live with every day.

In 2006, when Josh was first admitted to the hospital his father and I read and obeyed the sign on the door that simply said, “All visitors must wash their hands before entering the ICU.”

Taking GRIME out of South Carolina

Categories: Hand Hygiene, Healthcare-associated infections, State HAI Prevention

Dixie Roberts, APRN, C, MPH

Dixie Roberts, APRN, C, MPH

Author – Dixie Roberts, APRN, C, MPH
Healthcare Associated Infections Coordinator
South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control

“He who doesn’t prevent grime when he can, encourages it”

In 2007, with the knowledge that hand hygiene compliance is directly related to hospital acquired infections (HAIs), the South Carolina Hospital Association (SCHA) launched the first statewide hand hygiene campaign in alignment with the World Health Organization’s (WHO) international hand hygiene campaign. DHEC, AARP, Mothers Against Medical Error and APIC- Palmetto Chapter soon joined the effort.

This campaign had to be engaging in order to be successful. We selected the theme “Grime Scene Investigators: South Carolina” (GSI:SC), a parody on the popular television series CSI. Enthused about our initiative, the South Carolina Chapter of HOSA and the South Carolina Department of Education joined our effort.

In July 2009 a “summons” was sent to hospital infection prevention and marketing departments and public health regions calling them for training in Grime Scene Investigation. Each hospital received a GSI:SC kit with everything needed to set up a “grime scene” to create awareness while educating people on proper hand hygiene and its importance. Every SCHA member facility and public health region demonstrated their support of the campaign by designating a point of contact.

Hand Hygiene: Back to Basics in Infection Prevention

Categories: Hand Hygiene, Healthcare-associated infections

Katherine Ellingson, PhD

Katherine Ellingson, PhD

Author – Kate Ellingson, Ph.D.
CDC Epidemiologist
CDC’s Division of Healthcare Quality Promotiona

Hand hygiene is a simple practice that has been at the core of infection prevention for over 150 years. Yet getting healthcare personnel to follow recommended hand hygiene practices in today’s complex and demanding healthcare environment continues to be a monumental challenge. Even in the developed world, adherence is estimated to be less than 50%, meaning healthcare personnel practice hand hygiene fewer than half of the times that they should.

In the past year, the visibility of novel strategies to improve hand hygiene in healthcare has increased — from technologies that can monitor and report hand hygiene performance in real time, to smartphone applications that streamline hand hygiene data collection by human observers, to financial incentive schemes that pay or fine healthcare personnel based on hand hygiene performance.  We at CDC are very interested and engaged in understanding how these strategies work, what their strengths and limitations are, and how feasible and affordable their implementation is. Creative or high-tech solutions must work in parallel with the fundamental building blocks of hand hygiene improvement: education, grassroots promotion, and leadership.

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