The numbers are dropped casually in conversation, but the implications are huge. One in 25 United States patients has at least one healthcare-associated infection (HAI). Every year, there are about 722,000 reported HAI cases in acute care hospitals. Of those, about 157,500 are surgical site infections (SSIs). These numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are the more modest statistics available, yet still frightening.
Efforts to control HAIs and SSIs have resulted in a flood of infection prevention products, countless studies and stricter practices. Budgets for 2016 are already rolling out, and these infection control innovations are starting to appear. Suppliers predict all of them will be universally accepted technologies in years to come.
The importance of hand hygiene has been known for centuries, but monitoring proper hand hygiene compliance has always been a challenge. Halyard Health, formerly Kimberly-Clark Health Care, and STERIS think they can offer a solution. Various technology has been used to monitor compliance, but Jason Burnham, associate director of patient care solutions at Halyard Health, said their rough approximations could be improved.
“Newer technologies are built on radio frequency identification and real-time location system technology, which are designed for locating people and equipment in hospitals,” Burnham said. The infrared signals and bluetooth-based systems mean compliance can be scrutinized down to the individual level, or broken up by job title, department or other categories. With both systems, sensors can be placed next to dispensers or badges can be assigned to employees.
“Ideally, the system gathers data as staff go about their normal workflow,” Burnham explained. These systems could also become a reality for surgical teams. The GPS-like trackers will record when people enter and exit the operating room, and, he added, the technology could also pinpoint when healthcare workers enter and exit the sterile field, if a facility wanted to record that data.
How a facility creates change is up to leadership teams. “Hand hygiene improvement is ultimately a behavior change, and foundational to any infection prevention improvement,” he said. “It is finally a realistic objective, and technology has come of age to make it happen.”
This article is one of a four part series on 2016 infection control trends. Other topics include: antimicrobial technology, surface disinfection and patient prep.
This article was featured in the November/ December 2015 issue of Surgical Products. To see the complete issue, click HERE.