Just like intelligence agents watching for the real terrorists threatening to attack, monitoring healthcare worker adherence to mandatory hand-washing protocols via hand-washing squads in hospitals can go a long way to stop outbreaks of the opportunistic C. diff bacteria, says Irena Kenneley, an infection prevention and control expert and assistant professor of nursing from the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing at Case Western Reserve University.
Kenneley consulted on an analysis of a national hospital practices survey for the Association for Professionals in Infection Control (APIC).
She stated that the survey pointed to the need for mandatory standards for hand-washing monitoring, antimicrobial stewardship committees to oversee use of broad-spectrum antibiotics that wipe out the good bacteria along with the bad, and new technologies that can detect the presence of the bacteria after rooms have been thoroughly cleaned.
Currently, Goal 7 of The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations' National Patient Safety Guidelines encourages hospitals to set a baseline for hand-washing practices and then goals to improve. At one point, the JCAHO's goal was 90 percent, but organizations now must improve over past performance.
Kenneley said that this target is not enough and that quick isolation and mandatory hand-washing need to be in place.
Washing hands is one of the simplest ways to stop infections from Clostridium difficile, which is commonly called C. diff.
The benefits of hand-washing are known but not always practiced to the extent needed to get rid of the bacteria that can cling to surfaces for months and cause abdominal pain, ulcers in the colon and diarrhea in infected patients. The severity of the C. diff infection can lead to removal of the colon.
Some healthcare workers may not see why they have to go through cleansing, gowning and glovi
|Contact: Susan Griffith|
Case Western Reserve University