How hospitals can reduce risk of infection, cross-contamination

The threat of the Ebola virus has brought even more attention to the importance of disinfection protocols and reducing the risk of cross-contamination.

In an article in Infection Control Today, thoracic surgeon Douglas McConnell, M.D., FACS, suggests that hospitals:

  • Go beyond manufacturer recommendations in cleaning reusable products. Insist that manufacturers and distributors "provide the most extensive cleaning instructions possible customized for your organization," and taking into account the hospital's sanitizing environment, McConnell says.

  • Rely more on single-use devices, but keep in mind that some reusable components can still become contaminated.

  • Regularly update policies and protocols for avoiding cross-contamination.

A recent survey by the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology found that of more than 1,000 U.S.-based infection preventionists in acute-care hospitals, only 6 percent thought their hospitals were well-prepared to treat an Ebola patient. One reason: minimal staffing of infection prevention specialists.

But some hospitals are making progress in managing infection risk by seeking certification in infection-control practices, including a deep dive into how and why hospital-acquired infections occur and proactive training that goes beyond regulatory requirements. Two hospitals in Virginia, Sentara Leigh Hospital in Norfolk and Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital, were the first to achieve certification from the global certification body DNV GL.

For more information:
- read the article