July 18, 2013

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What Your 5th Grade Science Class Can Teach You About Fighting HAIs

Superbugs are becoming more powerful. HAIs are killing more and more people. Something needs to change. Superbugs are becoming more powerful. HAIs are killing more and more people. Something needs to change.

Do I sound like a broken record?

I really believe education and raising awareness is key to improving infection prevention. And everything I said in my first paragraph is true. Superbugs are becoming more antibiotic resistant and more powerful every day. HAIs are the 4th leading cause of death in the United States. People do need to know this, and something does need to change.

But sometimes I think we (myself included) forget that education isn’t only about learning facts and memorizing statistics.

Think back to your elementary school science class. I don’t know if it was just my school, but I swear every year from 1st to 7th grade we learned the parts of a flower. The sepal protects the budding flower. The stamen produces pollen. I’d draw a diagram in my notebook with an arrow pointing to the right section and a note on the side: Sepal-protects bud, Stamen- pollen. But every year, as soon as we moved on to the next chapter, I forgot everything. Even today, as I’m writing this blog post, I had to Google “parts of a flower” to get the right answers (Thank you biology.about.com for saving me).

But what I don’t need help remembering is the experiment we did in 5th grade, where we hid sandwich bags filled with food around the school and took notes on which grew mold the quickest (for the record, it was the one taped to the window). And I also don’t need help remembering my experiment for the 7th grade science fair, when 2 out of the 3 plants I was trying to observe never sprouted (FYI, don’t use the random seeds you found in the back of your garage cupboard).

My point is that while we do learn from facts and statistics (we throw plenty facts at you on this blog, so I sure hope you’re learning something from them), we also learn from acting. We learn from someone asking us a question and from using our knowledge and creativity to find a solution. And if that solution doesn’t work, we learn from taking what DID work and tweaking what DIDN’T work and putting them together to make a new solution.

So we can sit around reciting scary HAI statistics and debating the pros and cons of new ideas all day. That’s easy. And that’s a start. But what we really need to do now is take action. Not sure if antimicrobial copper will really cut down on bacteria? Try it out in a one department and see if it’s worth expanding. Don’t believe the claims about a new instrument washer or disinfectant station? Ask for a demo or free trial to see for yourself.

They say actions speak louder than words. Let’s see if actions can reduce HAIs better than words as well.

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3 Comments

Filed under Daily Blog Posts, Thursday Thought of the Day

3 responses to “July 18, 2013

  1. Early detection, analysis, remediation, measuring effectiveness of treatment. I am not speaking about a patient’s condition, I am addressing the way we need to prep our facilities and the staff within. Break the links in infection and cross contamination in 3 areas: Host, facility, floors. 1) Each department should have access to ‘on-site’ early microbial detection devices to determine evidence of pathogens in their respective areas in the facility. At this point the surface may be treated and the sample may be sent on for specificity if desired or determined necessary. Then the area must be treated to eradicate the pathogens. This should be done daily. Measure the result from the treatment as before. It is inexpensive to do so. 2) The host (human element) for cross-contamination needs an effective hand sanitizer that may thoroughly be used, on gloved or non-gloved hands, as often as possible without limitations caused by contact dermatitis, drying or other discouraging reasons for avoidance to use. 3) the facility floor must be sanitized each time it is cleaned because it is a superhighway for pathogens. ‘Super-bugs’ allegedly have a propensity to survive even the latest in chemical technologies becoming resistant to new concoctions that supposedly are better than the last round. Unlike harsh chemicals and caustics, Aqueous Ozone (O3) breaks the molecular bonds (via Oxidation within 10 seconds) of the organic material so that they no longer can exist. It is 100% natural and safe to use. It is effective against spores; bacteria; virus (including Noro Virus), mold, mildew, fungus, protozoans etc. O3 may be used on all surfaces and in all venues without contraindications. It is distributed in spray or pump spray bottles, back pack sprayers (showers etc.)mop buckets, floor scrubbers or carpet extractors. When used it sanitizes the surfaces without residue or contraindications. O3 really should be used routinely in our hospitals, schools, elder care, restaurants, cafeterias, close quarters living conditions. In fact, the subject itself and attributes of Aqueous Ozone are typically taught in high school sophomore chemistry. The device technology has just been reduced in size recently for acquisition and implementation but most people are not aware the technology even exists. It is recognized as a sanitizer, cleaner, disinfectant, deodorizer by OSHA, FDA, USDA, EPA, TURI, LEED. To summarize, you are correct about talking versus acting. I would like to see more action with the tools we have available to us and begin measuring our results moving forward.

  2. Really enjoyed your article. There’s so many challenges in the fight against HAIs and one of the most significant is behavior.

    Getting just one HCW thinking differently about hand hygiene can have a significant impact.

    The WHO 5 Moments of Hand Hygiene is a great start, as it adds that ‘clarity’. You can read more here and download a PDF for staff. http://events.debgroup.com/5-moments-of-hand-hygiene

    Also, wondering if you might be interested in having your article featured on our hand hygiene and infection prevention blog. You can view here. http://info.debgroup.com/blog/

    • Thanks, Patrick, I’m glad you enjoyed the post. I’ll email you about featuring the post on your blog page. We’re always looking for ways to reach a larger audience because you’re right, even changing one person’s mindset can make a difference when it comes to HAIs.

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