Effective Clinical Benchmarking and Infection Control

At the 18th Annual Ambulatory Surgery Centers Conference in Chicago on Oct. 27, Regina C. Robinson, RN, MBA, director of Peninsula Surgical Center in Newport News, Va., discussed benchmarking and infection control.

Benchmarking is useful in identifying opportunities for improvement, tracking trends and performing continuous quality assessment and performance improvement, Ms. Robinson said. ASCs can benchmark quality, efficiency and financial metrics as well as patient satisfaction and infection control. Benchmarking infection control is particularly important in helping reduce healthcare-associated infections and improving patient safety.

The first step in benchmarking is conducting a risk assessment, according to Ms. Robinson. A risk assessment of infection control should evaluate performance and the associated risks in prevention activities, such as hand hygiene; employee health, including staff immunization; and environment, including sterilization monitoring, among other areas.

Once ASCs perform a risk assessment, they should determine what to measure to reduce the risks identified in the assessment. Infection control components that ASCs can benchmark include the following:

•    Antibiotic timeliness
•    Hand washing
•    Staff training
•    Environmental cleaning
•    Terminal cleaning of the OR
•    OR/SPD temperature and humidity levels
•    Sterile processing
•    Actual infections and near-miss infections

ASCs can use these measurements to determine their performance against national standards and identify trends in the center. Once problems are identified, ASCs will need to take steps to address them. Ms. Robinson said benchmarking "shows surveyors that you're willing to do what it takes to make sure patients are safe in all respects."

Related Articles on the 18th Annual Ambulatory Surgery Centers Conference:

Common Mistakes in ASC Infection Control
How ASCs Can Manage Expenses and Physicians

Should ASCs Pursue ACOs?

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