Healthcare providers dedicate their lives to deliver high-quality care to their patients. Yes, a big part of their jobs is to help sick people get better, but they are also responsible to make sure they don’t become the breeding ground for any viral infections. Preventing the spread of infectious diseases over treating them may seem like a low priority task, but the risk of not doing so is very high. According to this white paper from Zebra Technologies, 1.7 million patients are affected by healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) every year in the U.S. It is also estimated that at least one-third can be prevented if proper precautions are taken.
Most Common Sources of HAIs
HAIs are unanticipated infections that develop during the course of a patient’s medical or surgical treatment. These viral infections can spread from many sources including other patients, medical equipment, mobile devices and many other different surfaces at hospitals or clinics.
In the last few years hospitals and clinics have started adopting mobile devices which has also increased the risk for infections to spread. If a patient that has an infection uses their smartphone, germs can live on that surface and spread to anyone else who might use the device – likely friends or family. Tablets used by hospital and clinic staff members that might require interaction with the patient can also receive these germs and become hosts for infections.
Healthcare providers are generally cautious about HAIs in their "care zones," which is where the patients are treated. However, in areas such as reception, in-patient/out-patient wards, etc. providers might not take the same level of precautions to avoid the spread of these infections. Whether patients are paying their copay or checking insurance information in the waiting room, they can easily come in contact from interacting with different surfaces and devices.
Combating the Spread of Viral Infections
There are specific guidelines that the CDC provides on how hospitals and clinics can prevent the spread of most fatal and severe infections, however, there are other measures providers can take on their own to prevent the spread of these viral infections and reduce the risk for their patients and staff:
- Disinfect Devices & Surfaces: Providers should make sure they are regularly sanitizing devices and surfaces, that are used frequently, with industry grade disinfectants. This will ensure that infections are not spread via these high-contact surfaces.
- Antimicrobial Protection on Devices: Disinfectants are helpful but can also harm surfaces of certain devices that are being used. Take payment acceptance solutions for example – their surfaces are not meant to be cleaned with disinfectant on a regular basis as these chemicals can degrade the device over a long period of time. Certain disinfectant chemicals may end up eroding the surface of the device and its plastics which will result in high replacement and maintenance costs for the providers. What hospitals and clinics need here are solutions that are already treated with antimicrobial protection which helps inhibit the growth of bacteria on the surface. With these solutions, healthcare providers extend the value of their care further by providing a tangible demonstration that is a testament to their efforts that keeps their patients and staff safe and healthy.
While the CDC can provide better guidance on high-risk HAIs and how to prevent them. Using these simple tools might help providers to keep some of these viral infections at bay. If you want to learn more about antimicrobial solutions for your hospital, clinic or urgent care facility, drop us a line.
Brandon Zauche is an Account Manager at Ingenico Group, North America