Experts identify steps to increase infection prevention standards

March 11, 2014

Experts have said that miscommunication is preventing infection practices from being carried out to the required standard by all healthcare workers, reports Infection Control Today.

Back in 2009, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) launched an analysis programme to observe ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs), which included a stringent set of infection control regulations to reduce needlestick injuries and other infection-related incidents.

However, experts in the field are concerned that the CMS regulations sometimes create confusion among infection preventionists at ASCs.

“Ambulatory surgery centers want to do the right thing, but unfortunately the requirements aren’t always clear,” said Mary Post, RN, MS, CNS, CIC, infection prevention specialist with the Oregon Patient Safety Commission. 

Needlestick injuries have been well-documented as one of the most threatening incidents for people working in the healthcare sector. However, another expert suggests that the safe use of such devices and medical sharps in procedures is still an area that needs much clarification.

“Safe injection practices are one of the biggest areas of confusion,” said Libby Chinnes, RN, BSN, CIC, an infection control consultant. “Do staff clean the tops of medication vials each time they insert a needle? Whether it’s a brand-new bottle or not – the top of the bottle should be wiped off with alcohol before the needle is injected into the vial.”

Ms Post adds that she often receives questions about everyday practices such as hand hygiene methods, saying that "everyday practices" often do not have 100 per cent compliance.

The experts have shared advice about how organisations can ensure that all healthcare workers are abiding by the correct protocol.

Having one person that is allocated to manage infection prevention and control programmes can lead to successful adoption, suggest the experts. CMS regulations require that this person should be a licensed professional who has undergone specialised infection control training.

However, the experts have called for more specification, such as setting a minimum number of hours that must be undergone in training before the person can be referred to as a specialist.

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