There are some key areas in any healthcare facility in which it is important to be careful about minimizing the spread of infectious diseases. These areas are the ventilation system, the water system, areas under construction, high-risk patient care areas, operating rooms, laundry areas and areas that may be at risk during natural disasters.
It is vital that key personnel including facility managers, safety personnel, administrators and staff adhere to policy set forth regarding infection control. Policy should address the following issues for maximum infection control:
- Ventilation and water systems must be at peak performance with routine maintenance.
- There must be a multidisciplinary team that is in charge of infection-control risk assessment.
- There must be procedures in place and barriers erected during times of construction, repair, renovation or demolition to anywhere in or around the facility.
- Areas for patients at high risk must have environmental infection-control measures in effect.
- Operating room policy must include procedures to prevent airborne contamination when infectious tuberculosis patients are being operated on.
- There must be routine water cultures taken to ensure the quality of the water supply to the facility.
- Policy must address the possibility of water-system disruptions including leaks, flooding etc., from natural disasters.
- There must be instructions available to the cleaning staff regarding surface cleaning and disinfections strategies regarding how to combat antibiotic-resistant microorganisms.
- Laundry room procedures must be followed for infection-control.
- There must be appropriate care taken when introducing animals into a healthcare facility for activities, therapy, treatment or service to prevent any spread of infection.
It is often times difficult to measure how well staff are adhering to infection control policy. The following guidelines for measure performance may be useful:
- Keep a record regarding infection-control personnel’s participation in all phases of a health-care facility renovation, construction or demolition activity.
- The daily negative airflow in AII rooms and the positive airflow in PE rooms where patients are present must be monitored and documented on a daily basis.
- Validate and update procedure to deal with water damage so that it includes safe ways to clean up and dry up any water in the facility. Procedures should detail the removal of, cleaning and drying of all conditions pertaining to water leakage and damage. Any water leakage or damage must be properly addressed within 72 hours of the occurrence of the leakage or water damage.
It is important that periodic examination of all infection-control policies be re-evaluated for adherence to healthcare infection control standards. All personnel must be made aware of the existence of infection-control policies and be required to read and sign-off on these policies initially upon hiring and when ever any of the contained infection-control policies are updated.