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Moving Toward Safer Outpatient Care: CDC Releases Guide for Preventing Infections

Categories: Healthcare-associated infections, Outpatient Care

Melissa Schaefer, MD

Melissa Schaefer, MD

Author: Melissa Schaefer, MD
Medical Officer in CDC’s Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion

As healthcare professionals, we must recognize our responsibility to protect patients – care should not provide any avenue for the transmission of infections. By working together, we can ensure infection prevention practices are understood and followed by all, during every patient visit. Healthcare continues to transition to settings outside the hospital, and efforts to prevent infections must extend to all settings where patients receive care.

Today, CDC is pleased to present the Guide to Infection Prevention for Outpatient Settings: Minimum Expectations for Safe Care. a summary guide of infection prevention recommendations for outpatient settings. Although these recommendations are not new, this guide is a concise, one-stop resource where ambulatory care providers can quickly find evidence-based guidelines produced by the CDC and the Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee (HICPAC).

Repeated outbreaks and notification events resulting from unsafe practices highlight the need for better infection prevention across our entire healthcare system, not just in our hospitals. Based primarily upon elements of Standard Precautions, including medical injection safety and reprocessing of reusable medical devices, this guide reminds healthcare providers of the basic infection prevention practices that must be followed to assure safe care.

HAI Tracking: The Accuracy Debate

Categories: Healthcare-associated infections

Tracking HAIs

Tracking HAIs

With so much attention focused on healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) – and particularly pressure at local, state, and national levels to drive infection rates down – how can we be sure HAIs are tracked accurately? CDC’s Dr. Arjun Srinivasan tackles this hotly debated topic head-on in a recent opinion piece published in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. See his piece at Viewpoints: How can caregivers reduce hospital-acquired infections?.

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.”

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