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Tips For Preventing Superbugs

From hospitals to long-term care facilities, healthcare professionals are finding that healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) are becoming more resistant and harder to kill.

February 7, 2013

Healthcare-associated infections (HAIs), such as (Clostridium difficile) (C. diff), norovirus and even carbapenem-resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae (CRKP), are becoming increasingly more resistant to traditional treatments and harder to kill.

Recent investigative articles from USA TODAY and other news outlets have further shed light on these issues, noting that C. diff is linked in hospital records to more than 30,000 deaths a year in the U.S., while death rates for carbapenem-resistant enterobacteriaceae (CRE) infections can be as much as 40 percent.

To help healthcare facilities and other commercial buildings prepare for and prevent HAI outbreaks, there are the following five tips:

1.      Choose the right disinfectantDisinfecting high-touch points is crucial in beating the spread of infection.

Always use a disinfectant registered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and follow the product manufacturer’s instructions for use.

Ready-to-use disinfecting wipes can offer an easy solution for disinfecting surfaces because they are pre-moistened to deliver the proper concentration of active ingredients every time they are used.

A study published in the November 2011 issue of Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology found that using bleach germicidal wipes instead of a quaternary ammonium compound (quat) product for daily room and discharge cleaning resulted in an 85 percent reduction in C. diff infections.

2.      Don’t ignore dwell times

Products that contain bleach are generally effective against a broad range of microorganisms and have short dwell times.

It is always best to consult the manufacturer’s instructions first and examine the label for kill claims for relevant pathogens.

Some disinfectants have a shorter dwell time than others for HAIs. For example, some are EPA-registered to kill C. diff spores in 3 minutes, while others require five minutes or longer.

3.      Follow the proper disinfecting procedure

Allow the surface to remain wet for the recommended contact time and then wipe any residue with a clean, damp cloth if necessary.

For the best results, areas that are visibly soiled with feces, blood or other bodily substances should be pre-cleaned before disinfecting.

4.      Pay close attention to hot spots

Areas that see the most daily interactions from patients, visitors and staffs are the most easily contaminated and require disinfecting on a frequent basis.

Disinfecting high-touch points is crucial in beating the spread of infection.Some important high-touch patient areas and items to disinfect include:

  • Intravenous (IV) stands
  • Blood pressure monitors and cuffs
  • Stethoscopes
  • Glucometers
  • Bedrails
  • Bedside tables
  • Bathroom handrails
  • Toilet seat handles
  • Drawer and door handles
  • Light switches
  • Nurse call buttons.

5.      Ongoing training is critical

Staffs needs to understand existing and emerging pathogens, contact precautions, hand hygiene and recommended environmental cleaning and disinfecting procedures.

Healthcare professionals should adopt a comprehensive infection control plan that includes these measures, as they are all necessary to reduce the spread of HAIs.