Archive June 2018 XIX, No. 6

5 Innovations in Infection Prevention

To defeat the infectious invaders on the front lines of surgical care, you have to fight dirty.

Weston "Hank" Balch

Weston "Hank" Balch, CRCST, CIS, CHL


Bible Study
Rather than stacking wrapped trays before sterilization, place them directly on silicone-lined shelves on the autoclave rack.

With each passing day, we see new reports on the growing dangers of drug-resistant organisms and infection control breakdowns in the healthcare space. At times it seems as if this infectious world of pathogenic microbes is working around the clock to get faster and smarter at putting patients and their caregivers at risk. These tiny bugs have declared war on us, and are using every weapon in their microscopic arsenal to take us out.

Fortunately for our patients and the future of our industry, healthcare providers do not know the meaning of the word "surrender." In fact, there have been a number of game-changing innovations that are poised to defeat these infectious invaders on the very front lines of surgical care. We reached out to 5 healthcare leaders from across the country and across the spectrum of surgical care to highlight the kinds of innovations they believe are making a real difference in the infection control space.

1. Guidance documents

Bible Study
BIBLE STUDY At left, Natasha Reese, MT (ASCP) CM, infection preventionist at St. Joseph's Hospital in Lexington, Ky., confers with a colleague about the "High-Level Disinfection and Sterilization Booster Pack."

Wouldn't it be nice, Natasha Reese, MT (ASCP) CM, used to wonder, to have a definitive guide to best practices in infection prevention? Wonder no more. The Joint Commission's recently released "High-Level Disinfection and Sterilization Booster Pack" is Ms. Reese's bible of reprocessing. The 49-page publication links standards, evidence of performance and responsibility in one easy-to-follow script. The Booster Pack incorporates easy-to-use checklists and guidelines that speak the language of sterile processing technicians, operating room staff and infection preventionists. It also carries considerable weight when there's a difference of opinion in how a soiled instrument, for example, should be transported to sterile processing.

"I am the informer, not the enforcer," says Ms. Reese, the infection preventionist at St. Joseph's Hospital in Lexington, Ky.

Ms. Reese takes her bible with her when she does her monthly rounds for on-site surveillance, checking that instruments are processed at bedside before they exit the threshold of the procedure room and auditing case carts to make sure all instruments are opened and unhinged.

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