Evaluation of Infection Prevention Procedures and Establishing a Baseline: Important Steps to Reduce Healthcare Associated Infections (HAIs)

A new survey published in the November issue of the American Journal of Infection Control (AJIC) reveals that evaluation of current infection prevention policies, and staff adherence to those policies, can reveal gaps in practice and opportunities for improving patient safety.  According to the authors of the article, establishing a baseline is important in determining where to apply interventions as well as for evaluating success. They go on to state, “We believe that identifying the gaps and addressing them as a system will help lead to marked improvements in safety for our patients.”[1] Infection preventionists and quality and safety directors should consider all aspects of the healthcare environment when reviewing procedures. While this article does not specifically look at standards for fabrics in the patient care environment (i.e., lab coats, privacy curtains, bed linens), leaving these out could be potentially dangerous.  Studies have identified gram positive bacteria, including those that are multi-drug resistant, can survive on cotton and polyester – common materials for healthcare fabrics.[2] Moreover, high touch surfaces such as privacy curtains represent a greater risk due to infrequent changing and laundering. A 2012 study published in the American Journal of Infection Control identified 92 percent of privacy curtains sampled were contaminated within one week and “eight curtains yielded VRE at multiple time points: 3 with persistence of a single isolate type and 5 with different types, suggesting frequent recontamination.”[3] Healthcare fabrics have been proven to be contaminated and deserve as much attention as other fomites such as hard surfaces and hands. A thorough evaluation of current practice regarding product selection, laundering and staff behavior is an important...