Healthcare Associated Infections (HAIs) can occur when patients receive medical treatment or are exposed to surgical conditions. Patients with weakened immune systems are particularly vulnerable to HAIs. In fact, failing to prevent HAIs can result in morbidity and even mortality within patients. The challenge of many HAIs is that they are often preventable with the right primary and secondary solutions. However, implementing these lifesaving protocols relies on the governing rules of the medical institution, as well as adherence to established guidelines by individuals, including, patients, visitors, and medical practitioners.
Patients with compromised immune systems are more likely to contract an HAI.
Understanding Primary vs. Secondary Solutions
Primary solutions are designed to effectively eliminate problems at their source. In other words, they do not need any other solutions to contribute to the ultimate goal of eliminating the problem — in this case, the cross-contamination of harmful pathogens that lead to HAIs. Alternatively, secondary solutions work together with a primary solution to eliminate the problem. Combating HAIs with primary and secondary solutions is only made possible when medical institutions understand how and where the greatest risk factors occur.
The Risk: High Levels of Contamination On Noncritical and Critical Surfaces
Removing the risk of HAIs from medical institutions requires an understanding of contamination levels for noncritical and critical surfaces. Noncritical surfaces include wall fixtures, furniture, floors and doors. Critical surfaces are those areas that are frequently handled, such as bed controls, switches, buttons and keyboards. The repeated handling of critical and noncritical surfaces can result in an increased risk of contamination. The extensive manual cleaning of these surfaces can help reduce the risk for HAI transmissions; however, even the most stringent manual cleaning does not necessarily eliminate pathogens from the environment.
According to the CDC’s latest National and State Healthcare-Associated Infections Progress Report, the implementation of primary and secondary solutions resulted in a “50 percent decrease in central line-associated bloodstream infections (CLABSI) between 2008 and 2014.” Additionally, there was a “17 percent decrease in Surgical Site Infections (SSI)” (as related to previously tracked procedures within preceding CDC reports). These improvements highlight the importance of implementing primary solutions to prevent and reduce the risk for HAIs, while also leveraging secondary solutions to combat the spread of HAIs.
An example of the duality between primary and secondary solutions can be found with UV room sanitizing robots. These robots are considered a secondary solution because the room must first be chemically cleaned. Once the room has been cleaned, the UV sanitizing robots can be used to ensure that no harmful pathogens exist. The challenge often associated with some secondary solutions is that they require additional human intervention, which can lead to costly errors that result in the spread of HAIs.
Depending on the application, UV-C light can either be a primary or secondary solution.
Hand Sanitation Protocols And Protective Barriers
Hand sanitation protocols and protective barriers are two primary solutions medical institutions can use to prevent HAIs. It is important to note that these two practices rely on the compliance of individual practitioners and the governing rules of the hospital. To improve the impact of these primary solutions, the following protocols should be implemented:
- Appropriate hand hygiene and glove usage guidelines should be adopted and enforced with a zero percent failure rate accepted.
- The outcomes of hand hygiene should be monitored in accordance with incidences of HAI. These results should be used to improve hand hygiene practices throughout the institution to further reduce future incidences of HAI.
- Protective barriers, including face masks, protective eyewear, gloves and gowns should be used to reduce the transmission of HAI pathogens from a patient to a healthcare worker, and again from the healthcare worker to another patient.
The Vioguard Keyboard: A Primary Solution To Prevent HAIs
When nurses and doctors enter a patient’s room, they often use the in-room keyboard to review charts, check on medical reports, and update the patient regarding their care. In this way, keyboards become are a critical surface that can easily become contaminated with harmful pathogens if the proper primary solutions aren’t implemented. While nurses and doctors can and should change their gloves after using a “regular” keyboard, often times this extra step is overlooked, forgotten, or not enforced. Fortunately, the Viogaurd Keyboard provides a primary solution that is designed to effectively combat and prevent the occurrence of HAIs within medical institutions. Unlike hand sanitation protocols and protective barriers, the Vioguard Keyboard removes the risk of human error due to its self-sanitizing UV technology.
The Vioguard Keyboard leverages the germicidal properties of ultraviolet light (UV-C) to automatically disinfect the track pad and keyboard after each use. This method does not require human intervention, which means this critical surface is automatically and properly sanitized after each use to effectively reduce the risk of HAIs. By eliminating the need for manual disinfection and the disposal of biohazard waste, the Vioguard Keyboard is an effective primary solution that can greatly reduce the risk of HAIs, while simultaneously lowering the possibility of pathogens passing between healthcare workers and patients.
The Vioguard Keyboard is a primary solution. This means no chemical cleaners need to be used before or after to get rid pathogens on its surface.
The Bottom Line: A Joint Approach Must Be Adopted To Combat HAIs
Steps can and should be taken to both control and prevent HAIs in medical institutions. According to CDC research, when the right primary and secondary solutions are adopted, the rates of targeted HAIs can decrease by 70 percent. Through the conscious efforts of healthcare facilities, clinicians, patients and visitors, as well as the use of proven primary solutions that don’t require human intervention, such as the Vioguard Keyboard, HAIs can effectively be reduced, controlled and inevitably prevented.