5 Places (besides hospitals) that Need Better Infection Prevention
At Midbrook Medical, we are all about infection prevention. And as you can probably guess from our name, we usually focus our prevention efforts in the healthcare world. Eliminating the international epidemic that is Healthcare-Acquired Infections is something we believe should be on the top of everyone’s To Do List. But infection outbreaks and superbugs aren’t limited to healthcare facilities. There’s no security guard stopping MRSA at the exit door of a hospital saying, “Um sorry you can’t leave, you’re an HAI.”
A Healthcare-Acquired Infection outside of a healthcare facility is simply an infection. And these infections are equally as dangerous no matter where you contract them.
That’s why we can’t limit our infection prevention efforts to healthcare facilities only. Many of the advances and technologies we discuss everyday on our blog need to be implemented anywhere where there is a risk of contracting infection.
And, really, anywhere there are human beings, there is a risk.
But some places are more prone to outbreaks than others. Take a look at these 5 places that desperately need proper infection prevention:
1. Retirement Homes and Assisted Living Communities
On a superbug or infection FAQ sheet, there are always risk factors listed, things that increase the chance of contraction. One of the recurring risk factors is age. The elderly tend to have a weaker immune system, making them more prone to infections. Think about how it takes your grandma twice as long as you to get over a cold. And that’s just a cold. Getting over something like C. diff. would be another story altogether. Another group with a higher infection risk is those already on antibiotics. Maybe it’s just the elderly in my life, but I swear they take about half the drugstore every morning with breakfast. If you combine these risk factors with the fact that these communities have a lot of people living in close quarters, then you understand why they really need to be careful about preventing the spread of infections.
2. Dentist Offices
We talk all the time about cleaning the surgical instruments used in the operating rooms at hospitals, but what about those surgical tools used to pull out your wisdom teeth or fill a cavity? Those are some intricate tools that, if not cleaned and sterilized properly, could pass on infections just as easily as those in a hospital. And think about the number of patients that go in and out of a dentist’s office every single day. They’re sitting in the same waiting room chairs, they’re using the same doorknobs, and they could easily be passing on or receiving infections.
3. Apartment Buildings and Dorms
My freshman year in college I think I vacuumed my dorm room two times at the most. In the dining hall, I ate too many cookies and not enough infection-fighting spinach. I didn’t get enough sleep. My throat hurt one time for about 2 weeks before I even thought about seeing a doctor. And I shared a community bathroom with all 30 girls in my hall. College dorms and apartments with young tenants are great for creating memories with your friends but a nightmare for infection prevention.
4. Athletic Facilities
Before I began working at Midbrook and doing any research on infections, I actually thought MRSA was something only athletes ever got. I had read so many articles on high school football players contracting it from unclean locker rooms or someone with MRSA going to their gym with an open wound and causing an outbreak. Athletic facilities, with their poorly cleaned machines and crowded, damp locker rooms, are breeding grounds for all sorts of infections.
Let’s talk about your average high schooler. She’s moving to a different classroom every hour, using the rusty old drinking fountain in the hall, taking the beat-up hall pass with her to the bathroom, sharing her dessert with her friends at lunch, and chewing on her pen. Honestly I could go on and on about the ways students are exposed to infections in a single classroom, let alone an entire building.
Each of these places poses a risk for infection in its own way. There isn’t one solution we can use to combat them all, just like there isn’t one solution that can eliminate HAIs. But there are technologies and methods already in existence that can be used to really make a dent in these infection rates. Ideas such as antimicrobial copper or UV light are already making waves in the healthcare world but can be just as effective in other settings as well. As long as we don’t get tunnel-vision, we can continue to combat infections, no matter where they appear.