How to Stop Nosocomial Infections With Handwashing
by Joe Johnson, on October 29,2020
What is a nosocomial infection?
A nosocomial infection is an infection the patient contracted while under care at a hospital or other medical facility that was absent at the time of admission. These are also referred to as hospital-acquired infections (HAI’s). In American hospitals alone, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that HAIs are responsible for an estimated 1.7 million infections and 99,000 associated deaths each year. The four most common types of nosocomial infections are:
- Urinary tract infections (32%)
- Surgical site infections (22%)
- Pneumonia or other lung infections (15%)
- Bloodstream infections (14%)
How to prevent hospital-acquired infections
- Proper catheter use. The most common nosocomial infection is a urinary tract infection (UTI), accounting for almost a third of all HAI’s. One common cause of UTI’s is keeping the catheter in for too long. Additionally, improper hygiene and cleaning of the insertion site cause UTI’s. Be sure to never use a catheter longer than necessary, and take extra care when washing the insertion site.
- Effective hand hygiene for staff. Routine administration of care like medication, cleaning surgery sites, and tests are typically the cause of other common nosocomial infections. Handwashing with soap and water is still the best defense against the transmission of disease. People often need to be reminded of that considering 97% of Americans are not washing their hands properly according to a USDA study. Ensure staff is properly trained and consistently reminded to wash or sanitize their hands. Skin health is another piece of effective hand hygiene that is especially important in healthcare due to the frequency of handwashing and how common dermatitis is. Read this blog post on how to maintain healthy skin.
- Enforce hygiene for your visitors. While an HAI is usually contracted from a care provider, that is not always the case. At any given moment “20% to 30% of [a hospital] is containing people from outside”, said Charlie Webb in a recent episode of The Wash Podcast. These individuals pose a great risk to the health and safety of the patients due to their lack of hygiene education, and “you can't expect visitors to go through a hygiene onboarding session every time they walk into a hospital”, Webb explained. Similar to staff, constant reminders about handwashing and ensuring supplies are convenient and readily available are great first steps to improve visitor hygiene. On top of that, make sure individuals wash their hands before and after visiting with a patient and as they enter the facility.
How automation can help prevent nosocomial infections
The actions needed to overcome the spread of nosocomial infections rely heavily on manual processes. And with manual processes come human errors. CleanTech>® Fully Automated Handwashing Stations are designed to remove the variability of human behavior by standardizing the handwashing process. You can guarantee everyone who uses the station is walking away with 99.9% of harmful pathogens removed from their hands. On top of that, with automated handwashing stations, you can implement the practice of forced compliance which allows you to guarantee individuals are washing their hands properly before entering a specific area. Read more about how forced compliance can improve the health and safety of your facility here!