The Joint Commission: 2 reasons why organizations struggle with infection control standards

Three of the 10 toughest standards for accredited ambulatory care organizations and office-based surgery practices were related to infection and prevention control activities, according The Joint Commission's Sylvia Garcia-Houchins, infection control director.

Sixty-three percent of ambulatory care organizations surveyed in the first six months of 2017 weren't compliant in reducing infections associated with medical equipment, devices and supplies. Organizations also had difficulty implementing infection prevention and control activities and complying with current CDC or WHO hand hygiene guidelines.

Here are the two reasons why organizations struggle to comply with these standards.

1. Increasing use of robotics. Robotics and other types of instrumentation increase the volume of less invasive procedures in surgical settings but require specialized training and knowledge for appropriate cleaning and processing.

2. Discarding manufacturer's guidelines. Tossing manufacturer's guidelines specific to equipment, devices or supplies is a relatively common practice behind infection control issues.

"If, for example, an organization has been preliminarily trained on how to clean a new piece of surgical equipment by that manufacturer's sales representative, rather than following the manufacturer's guidelines or undergoing a more robust training with a technical representative, they may not be following the new guidelines correctly, and that can lead to insufficient implementation of appropriate infection control processes," Ms. Garcia-Houchins said.

So, how should practices address these challenges? Here's what Ms. Garcia-Houchins recommends.

1. Educate staff on best practices for infection control.

2. Provide online access to the manufacturer's guidelines if the guidelines have been updated or the organization's version was misplaced.

3. Utilize online courses, guidelines and support offered by The Joint Commission, CDC and professional medical/surgical organizations.

4. In smaller organizations where the same individual performs several overlapping duties during any given procedures, conduct monitoring to ensure procedures are correctly followed.

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