infection control in healthcare impacts patient safety

How Can Healthcare Professionals Effectively Manage Infection Control?

infection control in healthcare impacts patient safety

Learn more about practical tips healthcare facilities can adopt to improve infection control.

The following guest post on improving infection control in healthcare was submitted by Rachelle Wilbur.

Healthcare-associated and hospital-acquired infections are a major concern for facilities, healthcare workers and especially patients. Central line-associated bloodstream infection (CLABSI), Catheter-associated Urinary Tract Infection (CAUTI), Surgical Site Infection (SSI) and Ventilator-associated Pneumonia (VAP) are all infections that patients can acquire while under treatment. Managing all of the factors involved in patients getting unnecessarily ill with these infections is an ongoing struggle, but the professional healthcare worker that takes a stand can make a difference.

Infection Facts

The CDC reports a steady decline in CLABSIs from 2008 to 2014. CAUTIs had no change from 2009 to 2014 in the infection rates. SSIs also declined from 2008 to 2014, and other common hospital-acquired infections, such as Clostridium difficile and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), also have declining rates of infection. Overall, the data looks toward improved protection for patients from infections they can get at a hospital or other healthcare facility, including long-term acute care hospitals and inpatient rehabilitation facilities. However, individual facilities need to be forever vigilant of protocol disciplines and providing infection protection materials and medication. Every facility should reach for a zero infection goal.

Protocol Discipline

There are proven methods that reduce infections. One is hand washing, and another is wearing personal protective equipment (PPE). Studies have demonstrated that washing hands using soap and running water is better than just using hand sanitizers. Also, even though standard examination gloves are not sterile, they can offer protection against healthcare workers spreading infections to immunocompromised patients. The problem of maintaining standard hand washing and PPE use varies from facility to facility and even from department to department and shift to shift. Enforcing strict infection control procedures across the board in all situations helps protects patients and may help with liability.

Education Benefits Infection Control

Every facility should require annual, or semi-annual, training in infection control procedures. Training should be tailored for each department, but minimizing differences in procedures throughout a facility is beneficial toward ensuring standard compliance. Additional benefits regarding education include assisting employees to advance medical training. Higher education benefits facilities and patient care. Nurses advancing from an RN to BSN degree walk away with increased knowledge that improves their ability to provide care for patients, especially care in specialty areas. An MSN program is typically two years, and some healthcare facilities expect their RNs with bachelor degrees to advance to master’s level within a specified number of years of being licensed.

Simple Devices to Reduce Infections

It is important for healthcare facility administrators and department heads to keep abreast of new technology that can help prevent infecting patients who are having procedures or therapies administered. Devices, such as Curos™ Disinfecting Port Protectors, can help protect patients with central lines installed. The little caps screw onto the port hubs when they are not in use. Inside the cap, 70% isopropyl alcohol is released when it is screwed onto the hub to “bathe” the hub and disinfect it. They are kept in strips that hang from IV poles. However, they are useless if supply lines do not keep them available for every patient with a central line all of the time.

Combining strict infection control protocol adherence with education may help improve compliance. Understanding the why of procedures helps with establishing a mindset of necessity of following protocols better than concern over disciplinary action of infractions. Thorough education gives a deeper understanding and personal meaning as to why certain protocols are in place. Keeping infection control products always in stock and handy for use also makes compliance easy. It is important to remove any impediments that get in the way of eliminating healthcare-associated or hospital-acquired infections.

Rachelle Wilber is a freelance writer living in the San Diego, California area. She graduated from San Diego State University with her Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Media Studies. She tries to find an interest in all topics and themes, which prompts her writing. When she isn’t on her porch writing in the sun, you can find her shopping, at the beach, or at the gym. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook: @RachelleWilber; https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100009221637700.

patient safety in healthcare

Managing Visitors in a Healthcare Facility – An Impetus to Patient Safety and Recovery

patient safety in healthcare

Following these simple visitor management tips can help to increase patient safety in healthcare.

The following post on improving patient safety in healthcare was submitted by Donald Raggs.

Healthcare facilities are becoming vulnerable almost every day in terms of patients’ safety and security. They need to be professionally managed. Healthcare facilities are highly prone to risks of security threats posed by intruders, unwanted guests, and temporary visitors. Managing hospital visitors is an important consideration for patient’s safety and recovery. Hospitals are aware enough to know that their visitors are the biggest threat to their patient’s security and infections that they may carry unknowingly from outside while they are visiting a in house patient. You may have heard hospital incidents about visitors who enter into a restricted hospital room without a visitor badge with the intention of harming patients and doing illegal activities. Hospital visitors present a potential risk to the patients and hospital staff if they are not handled precisely by the hospital security management.

It is very important for healthcare organizations to ensure that the visitors who are entering into a facility are authorized and not risky for patients. There are numbers of best practices that should be followed by healthcare organizations to manage and identify authorized visitors. These practices to manage visitors are very important to optimize patient safety and recovery in the healthcare organization settings.

Incorporate a Visitor Management System into the Facility:

Healthcare organizations essentially have to adopt a visitor management system to track the movement of visitors who visit the hospital facility for various reasons. Visitor management system is an ideal tool for tracking hospital visitors in real time. It is hi-tech software that effectively controls record & tracks hospital’s visitor traffic. It monitors each visitor in the facility and keeps records of all relevant information about the visitor in a single database. Visitor management system keeps a tight check on intruders, unwanted visitors and prevents the entry of any unauthorized or unwanted person in the facility. It effectively tracks visitors 24×7 by ID registration, visiting approvals, badge management, record keeping and process management. Visitor management system prevents the risk of crimes and unlawful acts into the facility and ensures that the visitors are good for hospital security.

Decide particular visiting hours to visit patient for relatives:

Rest is very important for the recovery of patients. Hospital authorities cannot let visitors tour 24 hours to meet patients. This increases the chances of spreading infection to the patient by the visitor unknowingly. For healthcare organization it is very important to decide particular visiting hours to meet patients. Limited number of visitors should be allowed to meet a patient at a given point of time. This is to ensure that patients get the rest they need and other patients are not disturbed.

Some of the patients can be kept out of bounds for any visitors specially the ones who have undergone a major surgery or are suffering from communicable diseases that may be spread out to the public. Visitor management system can be useful in ensuring that such patients are quarantined effectively since the visitor management system is not going to issue any badges or visiting slips to these out of bound rooms. Thus only health care workers, doctors and authorized staff of the medical facility will be able to enter these rooms who essentially are trained, dressed and qualified to take of such patients.

Provide Per Visitor a Visitor Badge to Enter the Facility:

Providing a visitor badge to each hospital visitor before entering into the facility should be mandatory. Recording each visitor’s badge number and address details of the visitor with the badge in the database should be made a practice and if possible the health condition of the visitor should also be taken into account before allowing him or her to see a particular patient. Ask visitors to show their ID and purpose of visiting the facility at various check points which will not only control the movement of visitors but will also ensure calm and noise free environment for patients who are recovering there.

Fixing a time limit and letting the visitors know their time limit should be made a practice. How long a visitor has been with a patient in the hospital room can be easily calculated via the visitor management system and a gentle reminder can be sent on his or her phone to adhere to the time limit which of course is beneficial for the speedy recovery of the patient.

A visitor management system not only ensure the safety and security of the patients within a health care facility it also ensures that patients being treated there have a speedy recovery and are not disturbed by the constant flow of visitors. Thus next time you go visiting one of your friends in the hospital which has a visitor management system in place and you are not allowed to visit your patient don’t feel bad; maybe your patient has had quite a few visits that day and you may only be disturbing him instead of comforting him.

patient safety in medical homesDonald is an independent writer and a content specialist from California. He jumped into the digital marketing scene early on. After obtaining masters in integrated marketing from northwestern university, He went to interactive marketing positions with top companies such as GE and Trackforce. As of today he is associated with Trackforce.com a leader in providing software and security management technology. Donald has great interest in technology and security. He loves writing about everything that is related to technology, security and safety.

using biometrics for patient ID in healthcare

4 Ways Tech Has Changed How Healthcare Providers Handle Patient ID Protocols

using biometrics for patient ID in healthcare

Learn more about patient ID technologies and their impact on patient safety in healthcare.

The following post on patient ID in healthcare was submitted by Anica Oaks.

Methods of patient identification are critical to matching patients with their intended treatment in busy healthcare facilities. The failure to accomplish this has led to some serious consequences for patients and providers alike, in the form of unnecessary surgeries and wrong patient amputations resulting in a marked rise of lawsuits and malpractice insurance costs. Here are some technical solutions that healthcare professionals are looking at to help solve this problem.

1. Barcodes
Barcodes offer a convenient and cost-effective approach to establishing patient identity. New patients are entered into the system and issued a bar-coded ID bracelet which can be read by scanners at various locations during treatment, and automatically checked against patient databases. The same barcode can be printed on other documentation to be sure there is a match between the ID bracelet and any medications, test results, or scheduled treatments.

2. RFID Chips
Radio Frequency ID (RFID) chips emitting a unique signal are being touted as a better alternative to barcodes. These can be embedded in wristbands, hospital beds, or patient ID badges. Sensors reading this signal can generate the matching patient records on electronic devices. One advantage over barcodes is that chips can be read from a greater distance; sensors placed throughout the facility can also monitor patient movements for safety and security. RFID chips are also harder to duplicate. For this reason they are advocated by the FDA.

3. Staff Training
Identifying patients and administering ID protocols both upon admission and before receiving treatment typically falls to the nursing staff. Today’s nurses must be technically as well as medically trained to be effective in using the various patient ID technologies. A modern ADN to MSN online program (Associate Degree in Nursing to Master of Science in Nursing) better prepares nurses to understand and apply the technologies in use.

4. Biometrics
Using biometric devices is a fairly new but effective means of positive patient identification. Patient ID in healthcare now offers biometric devices that read iris patterns or even facial structure and are then matched against existing patient data to easily confirm identities. Barcodes or RFIDs leave room for error. A biometric characteristic, however, has only one possible match. Though these systems are more expensive to implement, their reliability and ease of use may be a wise investment.

Healthcare facilities today are faced with the need for stricter standards of patient identification. This is not just to safeguard patient health and professional integrity, but to guard against fraudulent use of ID to obtain drugs or free medical treatment. Today’s technology seems to finally be up to the challenge.

Anica is a professional content and copywriter who graduated from the University of San Francisco. She loves dogs, the ocean, and anything outdoor-related. She was raised in a big family, so she’s used to putting things to a vote. Also, cartwheels are her specialty. You can connect with Anica here.

healthcare technology is

Changes in Technology that are Bringing Healthcare to the 21st Century

healthcare technology is

Advances in healthcare technology are radically changing our lives and well being.

The following guest post on healthcare technology was submitted by Brooke Chaplan.

Everybody knows that technology is constantly evolving, but people often fail to realize how new technology is changing the world of healthcare in particular. Here are five new technologies revitalizing the healthcare industry and making life easier for both doctors and patients alike.

Robotic Surgery Simulator

Most people wouldn’t step onto a plane that they knew was being flown by somebody in training, but the only way to teach budding surgeons has been in live operating rooms, until now. A new technology allows soon-to-be surgeons to learn new procedures in a way similar to a flight simulator. They see real footage of a surgery and get to make mistakes without endangering anybody. This new simulator could save countless lives by allowing surgeons to train without operating on a live patient.

Combination Systems

New strides are being made in the field of radiology by combining various image capturing technologies. For example, a PET-MRI hybrid offers all of the benefits of each system without the drawbacks. This allows for clearer images during various body scans and in turn, means easier and more accurate diagnoses. Students getting a radiology bachelor’s degree online and in universities are now being trained in these new systems and technologies.

Wearable Sensors

Almost all of us know someone already using this kind of technology in some way. Things like fitness apps and blood sugar monitors have inspired healthcare professionals to create sensors that can be worn throughout the day. These sensors are ideal for anybody suffering from a chronic condition, as they can broadcast vital signs to a nearby healthcare facility. This ensures that should something change in their condition, they can receive medical attention as quickly as possible.

Injected Bioabsorbable Hydrogel

This new technology has been injected into patients undergoing chemotherapy to protect their vital organs from radiation. While this treatment is not widely available yet, it has been used with great effect during studies of those suffering from prostate cancer.

Miniature Pacemakers

Having a pacemaker installed is unpleasant at best, but new technology may make the process much easier. Miniature pacemakers are 10% of the size of traditional pacemakers, and only take up a single heart chamber. While only 15% of those in need of a pacemaker are eligible for this new model, the technology itself is astounding.

As time goes on, newer and more effective technologies will continue to be developed. For now, however, these five technologies are some of the leading developments in the journey of revitalizing healthcare. Each one is not only stunning to think about but is actively saving the lives of patients.

Brooke Chaplan is a freelance writer and blogger. She lives and works out of her home in Los Lunas, New Mexico. She loves the outdoors and spends most her time hiking, biking and gardening. For more information contact Brooke via Twitter @BrookeChaplan

Iris Recognition On Smartphones

3 Ways Iris Recognition On Smartphones Will Change Patient ID In Healthcare

iris recognition for patient ID in healthcare is a more accurate and secure way to identify patients

Iris recognition for patient ID on smartphones will increase patient and provider confidence in using a smartphone for mhealth data access and services.

The following post on iris recognition for patient ID in healthcare was submitted by Brad Marshall, Enterprise Development Consultant with RightPatient®

Smartphones as the “future of medicine”

In case you may have missed the news, last month Samsung released the Galaxy Note 7, making it the first commercially available smartphone that features iris recognition biometric identification technology. The recent recall of this phone because of a faulty battery that could catch fire notwithstanding, the ability for consumers to now leverage iris recognition on their smartphones promises to continue the rapid evolution of adopting more secure patient identification technology on digital devices in healthcare.

Many say that the future of medicine is on our smartphones and with good reason. Both patients and providers are rapidly gravitating to these devices for myriad reasons including administering routine medical tests, sharing data, and ensuring medication adherence. However, despite the tremendous potential for the smartphone to radically alter healthcare delivery, serious issues remain about hacking and personal privacy which inhibits more widespread use of these devices because many on both sides of the healthcare aisle still aren’t convinced that sensitive protected health information (PHI) is adequately protected and kept secure. 

The healthcare industry was buoyed by the introduction of iris recognition as a security measure to protect access and keep PHI secure. Here are 3 reasons why iris recognition on smartphones will significantly improve patient ID and help fuel the rise in the use of these devices in healthcare:

  1. Accuracy: Iris recognition is widely considered to be the most accurate and hygienic form of biometric identification. Smartphones are playing a more prominent role in healthcare on both sides of the spectrum with patients increasingly using the devices to access protected health information through patient portals, share information with providers, for telehealth, and to make appointments and order prescriptions. Providers like smartphones because of their portability, accessibility, and mobility. The ability of iris recognition to replace less reliable and less accurate methods of biometric authentication on smartphones (e.g. fingerprints) will help increase and sustain the momentum of their use in healthcare. This bodes well for the industry wide push to establish fluid interoperability based on clean data because it lends confidence that PHI is accurate providing healthcare providers the confidence to participate in health information exchanges on both a regional and national scale.
  2. Eligibility expansion: As of 2015, 68% of American adults owned a smartphone, and 62% of smartphone owners had used their phones to look up information about a health condition (source: http://bit.ly/2dGZ0kQ). The question isn’t whether smartphone use will rise in healthcare, it’s how fast it will rise and how many people will continue to adopt it. Unlike other biometric technologies such as fingerprints that have previously been used on smartphones and rely on skin integrity to work effectively which automatically rules out a certain percentage of the population due to ethnicity, age, climate, and skin condition, iris recognition can be used by virtually anyone dramatically increasing the eligibility of those that are eligible to use it. (And, sorry Network World but your assertion that iris recognition “can’t be used as a verification feature for the blind or people with cataracts…” is inaccurate). We know for a fact that iris recognition does work with blind people and patients with cataracts because dozens of hospitals that use our iris biometric patient identification solution have used it successfully in these cases.
  3. Patient Experience: Among the many benefits ushered into our lives from the digital healthcare revolution, increased transparency and accountability is fundamentally improving the provider/patient relationship. Mhealth apps and patient portals have played a key role to help increase patient engagement and accountability for their health but a broad range of privacy concerns remain that have inhibited their widespread use across the healthcare landscape. Iris recognition on smartphones promises to significantly improve patient confidence that their medical identity is protected before they begin to use apps and portals and provides peace of mind that healthcare providers are deploying the most accurate biometric identification technology available in an effort to ensure privacy and security. There is a strong argument that the use of iris recognition on smartphones will improve the patient experience in healthcare.

Conclusion

There is little doubt that smartphones will continue to be a rising conduit for access to data and healthcare services in the future. The introduction of iris recognition on smartphones will only help to instill confidence in patients that their privacy and medical identities are protected and help providers to ensure their databases are clean and accurate thereby boosting participation in mhealth as a viable channel in healthcare.

Have you used iris recognition to verify your identity on a smartphone prior to accessing an mhealth app, telemedicine, or perhaps another digital health tool? How was your experience and do you feel more confident that your medical identity is better protected? Share your comments with us below. 

patient ID in healthcareBrad Marshall is an Enterprise Development Consultant with RightPatient®. With several years of experience implementing both large and small scale biometric patient identification projects in healthcare, Brad works closely with key hospital executives and front line staff to ensure project success.

prevent patient fraud in healthcare

5 Ways to Prevent Patient Fraud and Identity Theft

prevent patient fraud in healthcare

Preventing patient fraud begins with a thorough understanding of how to protect your identity.

The following post on preventing medical ID theft and patient fraud in healthcare was submitted by Meghan Belnap.

In this digital age, we can purchase anything with a click, transfer money from one bank account to another in a split second, and reconnect with people from anywhere in the world. There are so many great advantages to the internet age but unfortunately, there are serious drawbacks as well.

As technology advances, so do the dirty tricks played by criminals in an attempt to commit patient fraud and identity theft. With so much of our medical history available at our fingertips in digital form, it’s easier than ever to have that stolen from us. Here are five simple ways to avoid falling victim:

Password Protection

Hackers are skilled at decoding passwords. If the one you use is not a unique combination of numbers, letters, and symbols, you are putting yourself at a higher risk. If your password is still hacked from one site, it is important that you are not also handing them your password for everything else as well. For example, if your patient portal account password is fraudulently obtained, you do not want that to also be the password you use for your bank account. It requires keeping track of numerous passwords, but it is worth it to use different ones for each site you log in to within your digital health network.

Swipe With Caution

Card skimmers are very popular tools used by crooks to gain access to your account information. Each time you swipe a debit or credit card at a hospital or any other A.T.M. machine or gas pump, the machine reads the information stored on the black strip on the back of the card. This houses important information and it is all a hacker needs to wipe out your bank account. When you approach these machines, look at them closely. Does the area that you insert the card into seem loose or ill-fitting in any way? Does the paint color and material of it match the surrounding area? If not, there may be a skimming device attached to the machine. If you are suspicious, try giving it a tug. Is it loose? If you experience this, contact local law enforcement right away.

Monitor Accounts

If you have access to online banking, take advantage of it. Set up alerts that notify you when funds have been used over a certain amount or in ways unusual for your typical spending patterns.

Be Careful With Your Card

Keep an eye on your cards at all times. Statistics show that on average over 12 million U.S citizens identify as fraud victims annually. Professional FBI experts who are board certified behavior analysts specialize in investigative criminal or terrorist actions. While help is offered to those that are victim of patient fraud and identity theft, take the extra precautions to keep yourself safe by implementing smart daily precautions.

Identity Protection Services

There are a variety of resources available at your convenience which specialize in monitoring your social security number, name, and other personal information that could be used for patient fraud or identity theft. Most companies charge a fee to provide this service but if it prevents even one breach, it will be money well spent.

While there are numerous ways someone can gain access to your personal information, there are by far more things you can do to prevent it. Be cautious with your private details. Keep things secure both online and physically with the proper protection required. Whether it’s a safe box in your closet to keep your social security card, health insurance ID, birth certificates and other documents out of reach, or strong passwords that keep hackers out of accounts, it is possible to avoid patient fraud.

Meghan Belnap is a freelance writer who enjoys spending time with her family. She loves being in the outdoors and exploring new opportunities whenever they arise. Meghan finds happiness in researching new topics that help to expand her horizons. You can often find her buried in a good book or out looking for an adventure. You can connect with her on Facebook right here and Twitter right here.