Over the last few months, healthcare organisations have faced increasing challenges in the face of the COVID-19 global pandemic. As providers navigate the continued impact of the pandemic and look towards the future, prioritizing infection prevention efforts has never been more relevant to keep patients and local communities safe. To assist you, we have put together a few points to help support your organisation’s infection prevention efforts.
Gain organisation-wide support from key stakeholders
The first step to ensuring effective infection prevention starts with each staff member across all levels of an organisation. Becker’s Hospital Review highlights this sentiment in, “6 Elements of a True Patient Safety Culture.” Having effective infection prevention efforts in place is a key part of developing a safety culture that serves to protect patients, staff and family members. The importance of infection prevention should be emphasised to leadership teams and individual care teams across the organisation. When all staff members are invested in maintaining high standards of Infection Prevention & Control and aligning with regulatory requirements to mitigate the spread of healthcare acquired infections (HAIs), the organisation is better prepared to face threats and outbreaks should they arise.
Align practices with the regulatory requirements
The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Healthcare’s second edition of The National Safety and Quality Health Service Standards (NSQHS) highlights “Preventing and Controlling Healthcare-Associated Infection” as its third standard. This specific standard notes the importance of organisations having systems in “place to support and promote prevention and control of healthcare-associated infections, and improve antimicrobial stewardship.” It details the importance of applying quality improvement systems and surveillance to help mitigate the spread of HAIs. Adam E. Block, leading healthcare economist, writes that while many HAIs are more severe than a patient’s admitting diagnosis, these infections are preventable when organisations implement robust infection control efforts.
A lack of infection control can have a costly impact on healthcare organisations. Studies done in the U.S. and Australia have estimated the cost of Patient Safety Incidents to be $6,124 and $12,648 per case (Kaushal, Bates, Franz, Soukoup, & Rothschild, 2007; Ehsani, Jackson, & Duckett, 2006). Surgical site infections are estimated potentially at a cost as high as $26,000 per case (Etchells, et al., 2012). Nosocomial infections such a Methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and C.Difficile,in U.S., Europe, and Australia have provided cost estimates between $2,265 and $29,950 per event (Etchells, et al., 2012).
The RLDatix software equips organisations with a tool to integrate and use data to identify healthcare acquired infections, mitigate outbreaks, improve hygiene, track patients and meet reporting regulations. RLDatix supports providers in their quality improvement efforts by providing a tool to improve outcomes and processes for the prevention and control of HAIs across an organisation. The software is also built with functionality that allows care teams to forecast infection risks in their surrounding community with Contact Based Syndromic Surveillance, tailored to their facility. From a surveillance perspective, organisations can customise their surveillance efforts with lab results, Patient Administration System (PAS), pharmacy and more. The software also provides teams with the ability to receive instant alerts on lab confirmed or symptomatic patients and rapidly run contact traces to immediately start isolation/precautions and mitigate outbreaks.
Adopt a digital system to support infection prevention
Many healthcare institutions conduct their infection prevention efforts through manual systems. Local spreadsheets and other manual forms of tracking can result in tedious workflows and important information falling through the cracks. A digital system allows care teams across the organisation to stay connected and up to speed on relevant updates, best practices and emerging threats that could serve as catalysts for larger outbreaks. Infection Control Today notes, “Studies have demonstrated that automation and the use of electronic surveillance systems (ESS) result in improved data accuracy and sensitivity when compared to traditional methods... It is also claimed that ESS can assist IP staff with surveillance by decreasing the burden of data collection, resulting in significant time savings.”
Using the RLDatix platform, organisations can manage all infection prevention efforts from one centralised system. Staff can easily configure, perform, monitor and track user-defined compliance audits and streamline their reporting efforts to regulatory bodies, internal and external stakeholders. To help care teams effectively manage their daily workloads, the RLDatix software is built with robust notifications and alerts.
The future of your infection prevention efforts
The bedrock of any effective and successful Infection Prevention & Control program is Surveillance. The essentials of reporting public health diseases, recognizing targeted HAI’s, data mining of unusual pathogens, streamlined contact tracing, performing audits and coordinating data are critical to improving patient outcomes and staff safety.
IPAC teams are often inundated with a variety of manual tasks including reviewing microbiology reports, auditing patient admission diagnoses, rounding to identify clinical signs and symptoms of patients and educating patients, staff and families. These efforts put increased pressure on the time and resources of IPAC teams. Contemporary data managed systems are key to modern surveillance programs and helping IPAC teams navigate and balance their efforts.
As the pandemic continues to unfold, providers around the world are taking steps to ensure that infection prevention efforts remain top of mind across all healthcare teams. It is increasingly important for healthcare organisations to be equipped with effective tools and programs that promote patient safety and mitigate risks. Gaining support from every level of the organisation, aligning with regulatory requirements and implementing a digital infection surveillance solution are all key strategies to help support infection prevention. Where do you start when looking for a solution to help drive your infection surveillance initiatives? The RLDatix software equips organisations with a robust and customisable tool that supports healthcare providers in their efforts to proactively mitigate the spread of infectious diseases and promote patient safety at every level.