Preventing Nosocomial Infections

Nosocomial Infections – So what is that? Infections picked up in the hospital. Proper cleaning can reduce it, such as wound cleaning, hand cleaning, facilities cleaning such as carpet cleaning, floor cleaning, and any other surface you can think of. It is not a trivial matter. Five to ten percent of all patients get a hospital acquired infection and about 100,000 people die of the complications each year.

Wound Cleaning

Obviously, there are opportunities during surgery for the patient to get an infection, especially if they are immune compromised as in elderly or cancer or HIV patients for example. There is not only the opportunity to infect the site of the surgery, but also in the respiratory tract from any abrasion caused by the breathing tube while the person was under anaesthetics.

Protocols have typically been worked out to prevent infections from happening during surgery, such as gowning and gloving, use of sterile instruments, frequently one time use instruments now, and negative and filtered air flow in the operating room. There is no 3 second rule for things dropped on the floor. Yet, since humans are involved, things happen and people mess up.

Recovery & Hospital Rooms

Hospital rooms are a key place because they aren’t as sterile as operating rooms. Trying to keep it clean while dealing with bed pans, people throwing up and other problems can be challenging. A good nursing staff and a good cleaning staff or service can make a difference here.

But there are other things as well. It has been proven that people respond to touch. People will heal faster and have a more positive outlook if they are listened to and touched. That is a Catch-22 because that is also a great way to spread germs. Nurses can forget, but in multiple studies it has been found that doctors are much more likely to forget to clean their hands between patients. Studies have also found that the doctor’s white coat is often a source of pathoges, especially the sleeve cuff and pocket  areas. Doctors are supposed  to put on a plastic coat over top of or in place of the white coat but most don’t.

One other little item can make a difference, especially for burn patients and others with poor immune systems. People often send flowers. But the water in the vase is a great place for bacteria to grow. In one hospital they found that their rate of infection dropped dramatically when  they banned real flowers and only permitted silk flowers.

Common Areas

It is also important to maintain cleanliness in the common areas such as waiting rooms,hallways and bathrooms. Doing a thorough carpet cleaning periodically can remove the bacteria as well as the dirt in the carpet. Also, when people notice that a place is clean, they try harder to keep it clean themselves. It goes without saying that bathrooms are an important place to keep clean in a hospital or other medical facility. But also, any surface that people touch on a regular basis, such as banister, railings, chair arms, and tables for example.

This is fairly short, but you get the idea. There are lengthy studies that have been done because of the extent of the problem and the need to improve on it. If airlines had this big of a problem that 5-10 per cent of their flights had a problem, they would be out of business in no time at all.