In recent decades, a great deal of attention has been paid to reducing hospital-acquired infection and contamination by putting potentially or proven contagious patients on “isolation.” Isolation consists of a private room, or sharing a room with someone with the same infectious agent, and increased protective equipment for staff, along with other protective measures. As vigilant as policies and procedures may be, in a busy hospital, there are still many ways that infectious disease is spread from room to room and patient to patient.
In today’s post, we are going to discuss some common ways that infection is spread and special considerations that should be taken more care when patients are on isolation. At HR Pharmaceuticals, patient health and comfort are our priority. We engineer our products with the health and safety of patients and medical workers in mind.
Before we dive right into the special considerations, let’s do a quick review of some of the basics of isolation in a medical facility. The purpose of having a patient on isolation status is to prevent the spread of infectious disease. Patients are placed on isolation when there is a suspected or confirmed diagnosis of a contagious disease such as tuberculosis, MRSA, c-diff, influenza, lice or scabies, or a variety of other infections. Patients can also be placed on reverse isolation in the event of a compromised immune system to protect them from visitors, this is the case for those with leukemia, AIDs, or undergoing chemotherapy when the white blood cell count drops to a level that does not offer protection from common infections.
To achieve isolation, the patient will be placed in their own room and the door kept closed at all times. Additional protective equipment — gloves, mask, and/or gown — will be donned before entering the room and then thrown away before exiting the room, and hand hygiene is non-negotiable. Laundry and waste are handled separately from the rest of the floor’s items.
Isolation Infractions That Are Often Overlooked
Despite the best efforts of policymakers and procedure writers, there seems to be a strong disconnect between regulation and what happens on the front lines. At HR Pharmaceuticals, we do not think this is due to any intentional “rule-breaking” or a lack of well-written literature review. We believe it is more based on complacency and things that are simply overlooked a source of transmission. Reviewing our day to day lives as you read through this list may make you think twice about how you contracted last week’s cough.
If you’ve even looked at what it takes to work in healthcare, you have undoubtedly been bombarded with literature and slogans reminding us that hand hygiene is the single most effective weapon we have in the war against infection. There simply is no substitute for mindful hand hygiene. Over the last few decades, nitrile gloves and alcohol-based hand sanitizer have become the standard for patient care. While evidence shows routine use of both is as effective as regular hand-washing, you should engage in a great deal of all practices throughout your shift.
When it comes to patients on isolation, we have witnessed it far too many times, people skip the process of hand hygiene and donning the extra PPE, while they stand near the door to “just talk” to the patient. We encourage staff and visitors to be more proactive than reactive and practice good hand hygiene at all times. You never know when you’ll unexpectedly have to touch the patient or an object in the room, and simply touching the door handle is enough to pick up that single happy microbe who delights in the fact you skipped washing it away. And, all it takes is one.
Wheels As Rolling Vectors
We’ve all seen it, the administrator with their computer on wheels, the x-ray tech pushing the portable machine, the phlebotomist pulling the supply cart, and the nurse pushing the vital signs machine throughout the halls, from room to room. And, once leaving an isolation room, they may wipe it down with the proper disinfecting wipe and carry on. Cartwheels, like the bottom of shoes, are the all forgotten transmission vessels. Surfaces are scrubbed free of potentially infectious agents while the wheels are dispersing them on every floor surface they touch, only to be picked up by the next passersby shoes and carried closer to a new host with every step.
Speaking of shoes, staff and visitor shoes are often not cleaned upon leaving patient rooms, which also leaves the potential to spread infectious agents. If your isolation kits include show covers, we recommend using them. Although, staff and visitors should be mindful that they are not so much attempting to protect their own shoes as they are preventing the spread of infection, so be sure to remove the shoe covers before stepping into the “clean” hallway.
Multi-use vials do not mean multi-patient vials when it comes to a patient on isolation. While it may be perfectly acceptable to leave the same tube of ultrasound gel on the cart for use on as many patients as the product lasts for, when entering an isolation room, no product or supplies should leave and be used on another patient. If you must use a multi-dose vial on a patient on isolation, it becomes their vial and should remain in the room.
At HR Pharmaceuticals, we recognize just how wasteful and costly this can be. This, among many other reasons, are why we create our products in single-use FoilPac® as well as single and multi-use tubes. Stock both options in your supply room and use each kind where it is feasible. Shop our entire product line online today.
In the defense against the spread of infectious disease, it is important to be vigilant against the microbes that we cannot see. Especially in settings like hospitals, where each patient has visitors and dozens of staff members caring for them. At HR Pharmaceuticals, it is our mission to help keep patients, healthcare workers, and civilians safe, healthy, and comfortable. That is why we engineer products with infection in mind. All of our medical lubricants are sterile until opened and contain bacteriostatic properties, so as not to introduce or transmit infectious agents. We have owned the mark of assurance and consistency for more than 80 years. Contact us to stock your medical supply today!