4 Tips on Surgery Center Infection Control From Industry Experts

Here are four tips on surgery center infection control from industry experts.

1. Achieve certification in infection control. Certification in infection control is a measure of competence in the infection prevention world, says Karen Mackie, RN, MA, CIC, infection control manager at Greater Baltimore Medical Center in Towson, Md. Interested clinicians can only achieve certification through the Certification Board of Infection Control and Epidemiology. In order to prepare, clinicians should consult with a variety of expert resources, including the Association of Professionals in Infection Control, The Joint Commission and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to help prepare for the certification exam.

"If I was a healthcare employer and wanted to hire a specialist to oversee infection control, I would want to hire an individual who is certified," Ms. Mackie says.

Ms. Mackie's point is supported by recent research published in the American Journal of Infection Control. In that study, infection control policies and outcomes from 180 California hospitals showed hospitals with certified infection control professionals had lower rates of MRSA infections than hospitals without such expertise.

2. Follow hand hygiene protocols. Proper use of personal protective equipment, thorough hand hygiene, comprehensive environmental cleaning, meticulous instrument sterilization practices and frequent disinfection of potentially contaminated surfaces all significantly reduce the risk of patients acquiring an infection, says Wava Truscott, director of medical science and education for Kimberly-Clark Health Care.  

According to the CDC, the most important factor for infection prevention within the hospital setting is hand hygiene. Hand hygiene policies should include mandatory use of an alcohol-based rub or soap and water by staff and visitors before and after any contact with patients or potentially contaminated surfaces, says Ms. Truscott.

Easy access to PPE, including gloves, masks and gowns, makes compliance with appropriate protection much more likely. Policies need to be posted reminding staff and visitors of appropriate PPE to be worn depending on the patient's level of vulnerability and possible infectious status, she says.     

3. Use daily documentation, checklists and reminders. Use daily checklists that contain information on infection control-related responsibilities, such as the procedures for terminally cleaning, along with dates, times and concentrations of solutions for scope reprocessing. The checklists are laminated and posted in view in the scope reprocessing room, says Susan Rahn, clinical manager of Endoscopy Center of St. Louis. Utilizing check lists not only ensures that standards are being followed but also provides the manager with accountability of the staff.

In conjunction with daily checklists, scope reprocessing logs are utilized to record scope numbers, times of day, dates and concentrations for reprocessing solutions. This process is repeated for every scope.

"This is also a means for measuring accountability," Ms. Rahn says. "These logs can be used as a tracking mechanism should problems arise."

4. Revise instrument cleaning guidelines. No matter what type of enzymatic detergent an ASC uses to soak scopes into, Shaun Sweeney, vice president of sales and marketing for Cygnus Medical, stresses the importance of changing — not reusing — detergents after each use for optimal effectiveness. Just as a household member would refill a sink with new water and new detergent to clean dirty dishes, ASCs should also be mindful of changing water and enzymatic detergent because detergent will break down, Mr. Sweeney says.

"This may be a case of someone not paying attention to the manufacturer's recommendations or trying to save money, but ASCs must not reuse enzymatic detergent with multiple scopes. Detergents absolutely break down and lose integrity after each use," he says. "ASCs will sometimes reuse a brush to clean a scope too, but they have to remember that there are disposable kinds and reusable kinds. If you use a single-use item, you're supposed to use that item just one time."

Related Articles on Infection Control:

Advanced Sterilization Products Launches Digital Edition of Infection Prevention Newsletter
HealthGrades: Communication Key to Patient Satisfaction, Safety
Study: Rate of C. Difficile Infection on the Rise

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