- Nowadays, healthcare facilities are becoming increasingly aware of the health care costs associated with nosocomial infections, such as longer recovery times and increasing financial burden. As a result, measures to control nosocomial infections are now widely implemented in all organizations across the United States and it has certainly become a top priority within the field of health care. Nosocomial or health care associated infections, as the name implies, are types of infection that are acquired in hospital or acute care facilities. These types of infections typically surface within 48 to 72 hours of admission of the patient within the hospital or within 30 days after a patient has been sent home. Nosocomial infections are one of the most common complications amongst admitted patients, wherein 10% of patients in the hospital acquiring some type of nosocomial infection, comprising of urinary tract infections, blood-stream infections, surgical site infections and ventilator associated pneumonia. To combat these types of infection, control measures are in place, the simplest of which is hand hygiene.
Borges et al. (2012) conducted a study on the relationship of hand-washing compliance and nosocomial infections. The study was conducted in four wards of a large teaching hospital in Brazil for a period of 12 months. Health care workers were observed for compliance to standard hand hygiene and the occurrence of healthcare associated infections was similarly measured. Researchers also intervened through the use of educational posters and regular meetings with healthcare workers, discussing importance of hand hygiene and rates of compliance. The study showed that compliance to hand hygiene standards did not increase overall, however, hand hygiene before and after contact with a patient has improved among health care workers. Some challenges in carrying out the study included defining the criteria for compliance to hand hygiene and establishing nosocomial infections within the hospital.
- Despite the growing knowledge regarding infection control and the development of standards and guidelines in practice, these are primarily designed for an acute care setting and not for home health care. Furthermore, there is little research on infection acquired in the home care setting, nor are there methods to define and measure these incidents. An interdisciplinary question that can be formulated based on the above topic would be: What is the role of healthcare teams within the home healthcare setting?
In answer to the above question, healthcare teams within the home care setting are comprised of doctors, nurses, administrative staff, surveillance staff, and environmental health workers. The role of doctors includes the provision of their knowledge or expertise in diagnosis of infections and implementation of a treatment plan. Nurses, meanwhile, provide the necessary support in order to maintain optimum level of health and wellness within the home, continuous assessment of both patient and the environment and reporting observed variances. The administrative and surveillance staff may work in conjunction and their role includes maintaining up to date records of patients and constant surveillance of diagnosed infections that may be later analyzed. Environmental health workers, meanwhile, can offer advice within communities to contain or control an infectious outbreak.
It is undeniable the proper monitoring and surveillance of infections is required, along with the establishment of proper guidelines and policies for the prevention of such infections. Organizations should also emphasize practices that are geared towards the prevention of infection which can be achieved through proper training of healthcare workers and other support personnel on ways to minimize the spread of infection and by implementing a surveillance system of all infections acquired.
Borges, L, et al. (2012). Low Compliance to Handwashing Program and High Nosocomial Infection in a Brazilian Hospital. Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Infectious Diseases.
Coia, E. et al. (2006). Guidelines for the control and prevention of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in healthcare facilities. J Hosp Infect, 66 (S1):1-44
Lawrence, J. & Dee,M. (2002). Infection control in the community. Churchill Livingstone.