5 Best Practices for Strengthening Infection Control Programs in ASCs
Brenda Mastopietro, president of Arizona Ambulatory Surgery Center Association and chief nursing officer for Banner Surgery Centers, shares five best practices ASCs can adopt to build more robust and effective infection control programs.
1. Empower your infection control officer. As part of implementing an infection control program, ASCs must elect an infection control officer who spearheads the program, monitors compliance and stays up-to-date on infection control. In order to ensure a top-notch infection control program at your ASC, it is critical your infection control officer is exposed to continuing education opportunities to garner expert and professional insight and updated news and studies on infection control-related issues.
"Each one of our surgery centers has to have an infection control specialist of the center," Ms. Mastopietro says. "I know the best way some of the centers are educating those specialists is by having them become members of AORN or APIC and going to their meetings and collecting their education material."
2. Attend conferences. The Arizona ASC Association held two conferences in 2009 that were open to ASCs and other professionals working in the outpatient surgery venue, including supply vendors. During the conferences, industry experts were brought in to talk about infection control-related issues.
"During our spring conference last year, we had an infection control preventionist from a nearby hospital come in and give a lecture on infection control policies and how to build a really great infection control program," Ms. Mastopietro says. "Then, to follow up on the spring conference, we had a sterilization expert give a talk during our fall conference what the correct sterilization process is, what's considered the correct length of time for sterilization and so on."
3. Reach out to organizations. Instead of trying to build an infection control program from scratch and without outside help, ASCs should turn to their state ASC associations or well-established industry experts and organizations for additional assistance in building a more robust infection control program. Ms. Mastopietro says many ASC members of the Arizona ASC Association are also members of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology.
"ASCs can also reach out to CMS, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Association of periOperative Registered Nurses," she says. "All these groups have some information on what an infection control program should look like. On our state association's board, we have a clinical advisory chair, and her role is to assist ASCs in writing up infection control programs."
4. Consult online resources. The state of Arizona is working on creating a website about healthcare-associated infections for all disciplines, including hospitals, ASCs, home health agencies, clinics and anywhere else patients can access healthcare, Ms. Mastopietro says. Although the website is not live yet, Ms. Mastopietro says ASCs can consult this online resource if they are faced with challenges related to cleaning instruments, cleaning patient rooms, hand hygiene, C. Diff. and MRSA prevention and other facets of infection control.
"Some states already have something similar up and running, and money has been set aside to put together his healthcare-associated infection website in Arizona," she says. "I told the Arizona ASC Association's board members that I would like that link to be on the association's website so all ASCs can have access to that information. The healthcare-associated infection website would also include tools for infection control monitoring that can be adopted."
5. Start measuring infection control quality compliance now. ASCs would benefit greatly from measuring infection control compliance. This way, facilities can have a clearer view of which infection control practices, such as hand hygiene compliance or single-use syringe and needle compliance, need improvement. Additionally, Ms. Mastopietro says although ASCs are not yet required by CMS to report quality measures, it may be a possibility in the future, so adopting reporting practices early on will be beneficial.
"ASCs will want to start rigorously monitoring various measures, such as antibiotics received prior to surgical procedures, removal of hair from surgical sites, normothermia, hand hygiene, sterilization techniques, proper drug utilization and so on," she says.
Learn more about Arizona Ambulatory Surgery Center Association.
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