Tag Archives: Bacteria

The Next Time A Friend Is Sick, Don’t Send Flowers. Send Yogurt.

ImageIn Meadowbrook, PA., at Holy Redeemer Hospital, they are trying something new. An innovative idea aimed to cut down on infection rates that also fits beautifuly into their budget. It all came about when they started to see a spike in hospital infection rates. They attempted to battle the bug with the usual approaches like patient isolation and increasing their use of bleach, but to no avail. That’s when they started taking a few  notes from Jamie Lee Curtis. Remember those Activia commercials promoting the benefits of probiotics?  Holy Redeemer must have, because they decided to make use of the small organisms that help maintain the natural balance of bacteria in the intestines.

Probiotics are said to help treat a number of conditions, including irritable bowel sydrome, tooth decay and chronic fatigue syndrome. Now, Holy Redeemer and other hospitals are using probiotics as a preventive measure for patients on antibiotics. While antibiotics are good at fighting the bad bugs, they also kill the good ones and that can lead to C. diff infections. Patients with orders for antibiotics were recommended to take two six-ounce portions of yogurt daily. The number of C. diff cases fell from 75 infections in 2011 to 23 infections in 2012.

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Filed under Healthcare Acquired Infections, Uncategorized

Should You Care What Your Doctor Looks Like?

Infection Prevention

Infection Prevention

Have you ever gone into a business meeting wearing a suit and noticed the guy on the other end of the table is wearing a polo shirt? Or have you seen someone at the pool on a beautiful 90 degree day in long sleeves black pants?  I sure have and it makes me wonder about the difference between expectations and common sense.

It has been engrained in our heads that certain situations call for a certain type of apparel.  We expect in a business environment everyone will dress for a business meeting. We expect that at the pool, you wear your beach apparel. Yet other times its just plain common sense to dress a certain way.  Why dress in all black when the sun is so hot and its such a beautiful day?

Medical facilities are going through these questions as well. Traditionally doctors have donned the long white coat and tie. So that’s what we’ve grown to expect of them. A nice clean look makes the doctor appear professional and therefore respected as an an athority on your health. But does this coat and tie approach follow common sense?

When we stop to think about it, that coat and tie goes from room to room, seeing sick patient after sick patient. Yet it isn’t disinfected between seeing each patient. It probably isn’t even disinfected between each day either. If you really want to get the heebie-jeebies, think about the last time you’ve washed your tie. Some would even admit to, “never.”

There have been nation-wide hospital policies surrounding this issue. Should we ditch the professional physician attire? It should help decrease the spread of harmful infections, but would you take your doctor as serious if he was in kahki’s and a button up? Some resident students have even started attending clinicals wearing jeans! Yet just because you ditch the coat and tie for something else doesn’t mean you’re transmitting less germs. It might however, be more likely to be washed.

Which way would you vote? The professional attire that you expect that comandeers respect or the attire that might be disinfected more regularly and spread less bacteria? I think that is a tough question. Either way we vote, it’s an indication that therein lies some responsibility on the physician to take a pro-active approach to work attire. Dressing professionally should not only encompass the look of their attire but the level of cleanliness as well.

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Filed under Healthcare Acquired Infections, Thursday Thought of the Day, Uncategorized

CRE: Carbapenem-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae.

It’s a big name and an even bigger problem. CRE is one of three infections listed at an “Urgent” threat level for patients in medical facilities.

“CRE have become resistant to all or nearly all antibiotics we have today.

How scary is that?? But unfortunately it gets worse. The CDC says up to half of all infections caused by CRE result in death.

Here is what CDC lists as Antibiotic Resistant Threats in 2013:
■ Some Enterobacteriaceae are resistant to nearly all antibiotics, including carbapenems, which are often considered the antibiotics of last resort.
■ More than 9,000 healthcare-associated infections are caused by CRE each year.
■ CDC laboratories have confirmed at least one type of CRE in healthcare facilities in 44 states.
■ About 4% of U.S. short-stay hospitals had at least one patient with a serious CRE infection during the first half of 2012. About 18% of long-term acute care hospitals had one.

“Federal health officials reported Monday that at least two million Americans fall ill from antibiotic-resistant bacteria every year and that at least 23,000 die from those infections, putting a hard number on a growing public health threat. It was the first time that federal authorities quantified the effects of organisms that many antibiotics are powerless to fight. “

How antibiotic resistance spreads:
how resistance happens

Read the CDC Drug Resistance Threat Report and find suggestions for how to prevent and handle infections.

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Filed under Tuesday Trivia, Uncategorized

September 5, 2013


Let’s get Excited About Education Again

It’s the first week in September again. I don’t know about you, but September will always mean one thing: back to school time.

Do you remember your first days of school as a kindergartner or first grader? I still remember the outfit I wore on my first day of first grade, right down to the purple flower necklace. From that very first day, I loved school. I loved my teacher, I loved the weekly packet of homework we got every Monday, I loved the brownies in the school lunches, and I loved the black-and-white plaid jumper I got to wear.

Everything was so exciting. I was learning more difficult addition and subtraction. I learned how to read the “ch”, “sh”, and “th” sounds. And I couldn’t wait until I was lucky enough to get homework every day and graduate from wearing the jumper to the plaid skirt like my older sister.

I’m not trying to make you nostalgic for your childhood or days gone by (although now that I mentioned it, I am craving one of those school brownies). I’m just wondering: at what point do we lose that excitement for change and for learning new things?

At what age does “I get to try this” turn into “I have to try this”? When do we stop seeking out new information and ideas, desperate to be as smart as the people we look up to? When do we start skimming the title of an article and hitting delete, not even interested in the learning opportunity that is literally right in front of us?

Like everything else in life, infection prevention is an ongoing and never-ending education. But think about that for a minute. Think about all the new technologies that have come out and that are going to come out in our lifetime. Think about all the different ways we’re going to develop to kill harmful bacteria and keep people safe and healthy. Think about all the studies scientists will do, all the ways healthcare facilities will evolve and adapt with each piece of new information.

Like I said, infection prevention is an ongoing and never-ending education. And I think it’s about time we got excited about that again.

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Filed under Daily Blog Posts, Thursday Thought of the Day

August 29, 2013


Infection Prevention- “And” is Better

Have you seen the new Ford commercials?

It’s a pretty ridiculous ad, but do you see their point? Why would we choose between two options when having both is better? In the case of Ford, a foot activated lift gate AND great gas mileage is better than one or the other. And what about these other duos?

Macaroni AND cheese, Bert AND Ernie, Twist AND Shout…

Better together, right?

It reminds me of the sentiment that I’ve seen reiterated over and over in LinkedIn discussions, news articles, and success stories: infection prevention needs an all-hands-on-deck and it doesn’t have just one solution. When it comes to infection prevention, “and” is better.

In a patient’s room:

  • Hand hygiene: cuts down on the spread of germs and bacteria, but it’s impossible to ensure 100% compliance
  • Antimicrobial copper: kills 99.9% of surface bacteria within 2 hours, but it’s not financially possible for most hospitals to copperize every single surface in a hospital
  • Hand hygiene AND Antimicrobial copper: eliminating more germs and bacteria through hand hygiene and copper high touch surfaces

In an instrument washer:

  • Ultrasonic bath: breaks up bioburden on instrument surface
  • Ozonated water: world’s most effective bacteria-killer
  • Ultrasonic bath AND Ozonated water: elimination of bioburden and bacteria leading to instruments that consistently pass AAMI standards

In disinfection:

  • UVC full room disinfection machine: disinfects rooms, but only the surfaces facing the machine
  • UV Flash: 360° disinfection of hard to clean objects at a high risk for cross-contamination such as stethoscopes, laptops, and more
  • UVC full room disinfection machine AND UV Flash: ability to disinfect rooms as well as the entire surface area of commonly used objects; both of which cuts down on cross-contamination

Creating standards:

  • Standardized processes: ensures everyone is following the best proven procedures while cleaning instruments in sterile processing departments, preparing a room for a new patients, etc.
  • Standardized results: ensures that each healthcare facility is aiming for an objective and measurable level of clean
  • Standardized processes AND results: no more articles with tips on which hospitals to choose and which to avoid because everyone is following the same procedures and achieving the same high level of clean

Yup, “and” is definitely better.

What are some other infection prevention combinations you can think of?

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Filed under Anti microbial copper alloys, Daily Blog Posts, Thursday Thought of the Day, Ultraviolet light to fight bacteria

August 22, 2013


Infection Prevention: Seeing Isn’t Believing

I have a weak spot for magic tricks. When I was little, my best friend’s dad used to perform for us when I was at her house. I remember begging and pleading for the secrets behind the tricks because, even at age 5, I needed things to be logical and make sense.

And that’s why those tricks drove me up the wall. First of all, there’s no way a quarter could stay put behind my ear. Second, even if it could, there’s no way I wouldn’t notice it. Or what about that trick where a magician saws his assistant in half? How can I see her feet sticking out of one half, her head sticking out of the other half, and both halves still alive and kicking (one half literally kicking…)? You just can’t survive if your body is in two different places. It doesn’t make sense.

But sometimes, what you see isn’t what you should believe. Sometimes appearance isn’t reality, and reality isn’t appearance. Sometimes we have to look past appearances to really “see” clearly.

That sounds pretty twisted and cryptic doesn’t it? It’s confusing to explain on paper and even more confusing to adopt as a mindset.

My point is that we all struggle with separating appearance from reality, and that’s one of the obstacles holding us back in infection prevention.

If we don’t SEE any superbugs or bacteria, how do we know they are there?

Or if we SEE a nurse wipe the counter down, then it should be clean right?

And if we can’t SEE a difference between objects before and after UVC light disinfection or a difference between stainless steel and antimicrobial copper, how do we know they work?

If we base our logic on appearances, the rising rate of HAIs (Healthcare-Acquired Infections) doesn’t make sense at all. And if we base our logic on appearances, there’s no reason to change our current infection prevention practices

But, whether it makes sense or not, HAI rates ARE rising, and we DO need to change our current infection prevention practices.

So maybe we need to take a page out of the magician’s handbook and look past appearances.

Then we can SEE that just because it looks like the magician pulled a quarter from behind my ear doesn’t mean it actually happened. Then we can SEE that just because it looks like that assistant was sawed in half doesn’t mean she actually was.

Then we can SEE that just because it looks like there aren’t any superbugs or bacteria present doesn’t mean they aren’t there. Then we can SEE that just because something looks clean doesn’t mean it is. Then we can SEE the difference that using UVC light or antimicrobial copper makes.

Now let’s get one thing straight. I’m not trying to say infection prevention is a magic trick. Preventing the spread of germs and bacteria requires more effort and technology than could ever be pulled out of a top hat. But, like magic, it does require us to look past appearances to “see” the truth. And, in infection prevention, the truth is worth a whole lot more than a hidden quarter behind my ear.

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Filed under Daily Blog Posts, Healthcare Acquired Infections, Thursday Thought of the Day