4 Tips for Preventing Infection in Your ASC

Susan Bakewell, RN, AORN's director of perioperative education, and Bonnie Denholm, RN, MS, CNOR, perioperative nursing specialist, are passionate advocates of infection control in surgery centers. AORN recently launched a four-module quality infection control program, which covers hand hygiene practices, sterilization, high-level disinfection, environmental infection prevention and safe practices for point-of-care devices.

Ms. Bakewell and Ms. Denholm discuss four techniques to promote infection control and lower infection rates in your surgery center.

1. Educate your whole staff, not just your physicians. Ms. Denholm says ASCs should include every staff member in infection control training. "Often the direct caregivers are knowledgeable, but other staff members need a refresher course," she says.

2. Monitor your staff's infection control practices. You won't know if your infection control training worked unless you witness your staff in action. Many ASCs choose to use a back office staff member as a "secret observer" to monitor the rest of the staff for their hand washing techniques and sterilization methods. "Observe your staff at different points in time," Ms. Bakewell says. "Having this observation makes people more alert, involves them in the process and gives them an investment in your success."

3. Use creative techniques to teach infection prevention.
The AORN infection prevention course recognizes that staff members will learn information more easily if it's presented in a fun and memorable way. Ms. Denholm says ASCs can help staff members identify infection risks by posting a "what's wrong with this picture?" cartoon in the facility. If staff members can quickly identify safety risks in a picture of a surgery clinic, they'll be more likely to pick up on hazards in their own work environment. The AORN course involves games, periodic quizzes and links to outside sources to keep staff members and physicians engaged in the learning process.

4. Hammer home the financial benefits of infection control.
ASC administrators, staff members and physicians shouldn't just take infection prevention seriously because of patient safety, Ms. Denholm says. There are also clear financial benefits to maintaining a safe facility. "If there's evidence that a patient contracted a facility-acquired infection, you're not going to get reimbursed," she says. She also points out that infections can hurt your center's reputation by creating a perception that you provide unsafe care. Your facility will benefit financially from infection prevention through full reimbursements and patient recommendations.

"We always say the cost of prevention is less than the cost of one infection," says Ms. Bakewell. "And everybody wants to be known for providing quality, safe patient care."

Read more about AORN.

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