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Patient Infection Rates Controlled by Unique Program at Outpatient Cancer Clinic
Date:3/17/2009

ironment is less controlled than that of a hospital.

A cornerstone of the SCCA infection control program is a real-time, automated surveillance system that is the first of its kind among comprehensive cancer centers. It queries several clinical and laboratory databases maintained at the SCCA and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (a co-owner of the SCCA) daily, providing numbers and rates of infections among patients. The automated query replaces the traditional paper chase that makes most other surveillance time consuming and inefficient.

One result of constantly tracking infections is the ability to focus infection control resources on real emerging outbreaks, Casper said. For example, when the surveillance system showed few cases of MRSA, more attention could be paid to preventing the annual expected uptick in respiratory infections.

The screening system goes live every Oct. 1.

"It's such a simple system," Casper said. "We ask everyone entering building to fill out a survey asking whether they have one of 11 respiratory symptoms. A licensed practical nurse staffs the survey desk. If you answer yes to any of those questions you are placed into isolation, tested for a respiratory virus and put somewhere else so you don't put other patients at risk. If you're an employee you are furloughed from work. If you are a visitor whose clinic visit is not essential you are asked to reschedule your appointment. That system alone has been incredibly effective in reducing the amount of respiratory viruses."

The SCCA also has instituted some novel patient and staff education programs to keep infection control top of mind. For example:

Infection control rounds - Once monthly the infection control team joins with senior administrators for a top-to-bottom inspection of the clinic building, soliciting staff input. "It has really revolutionized the way the infection control program ha
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SOURCE Seattle Cancer Care Alliance
Copyright©2009 PR Newswire.
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