patient identification identifying the right patient

The True Meaning of Patient Identification Innovation

patient identification identifying the right patient

Patient identification “innovation” is defined by the ability to address both present and future complexities and nuances of patient behaviors.

The following post on patient identification innovation was submitted by Michael Trader, Co-Founder of RightPatient®

I get it. Change is hard. It’s human nature to resist change, yet as we are often reminded, true progress in life comes when we step “outside the box” and “outside of our comfort zone” to change our perspective and foster growth (thank you mom and dad for that advice) Despite our inherent inability to accept it, change is inevitable and a fact of life. Anywhere you look around, change exists in one form or another and there is little doubt that change can be challenging.

In the healthcare industry, patient identification as we know it is going through radical changes. While this may have been breaking news a few years ago, most in the industry are now well aware that traditional patient identification methods are no longer effective and have the potential to place a patient in harm’s way via medical errors, duplicate records, and medical identity theft. As more healthcare organizations recognize and understand the importance of abandoning antiquated patient ID procedures in favor of more modern, secure technology to improve patient safety I think it’s important to put into context what it actually means to be “innovative” in patient identification. In other words, I often see the word “innovative” used to describe technology solutions built to only address one facet of patient ID instead of being designed to not only address the complexities of today’s environment, but also equipped to cover the challenges of patient identification in the future. 

I recently wrote a post for Health Data Management where I discuss how the behavior of current and future generations plays an important role in designing patient ID technology that has the capability to ID a patient no matter where they enter and exit along the care continuum. This is an important innovation “ingredient” that must be built into any modern patient identification solution and any technology that limits where and when healthcare organizations can accurately identify a patient is simply not innovative. 

How does RightPatient define patient identification innovation? I’m glad you asked.

When we began our patient identification technology solution journey a few years ago we understood a key fact that is often overlooked and frequently not factored into the discussion and analysis of platforms designed to address the complexities of today’s patient ID environment. That simple fact is that the digitization of the industry has broke down traditional barriers of where and when a patient can either receive care along the continuum or access protected health information (PHI). Patients seeking care or data access no longer see brick and mortar healthcare facilities as the first and only place where they can consume healthcare.

The dawn of patient portals, telemedicine, connected health apps, and other virtual environments has fundamentally altered healthcare consumption by shifting care from traditional environments to virtual ones. For many patients, the first thought when they seek care or data access is to grab their phone, or login to their PC or tablet instead of hopping in their car and driving to the doctor’s office or local emergency department (ED).  To us, innovation is bringing to market a patient identification solution that has the capability to truly address patient identification at ANY point along the care continuum, brick and mortar OR virtual environments.

RightPatient’s innovative spirit doesn’t stop there. We also define patient identification “innovation” by these additional solution attributes and milestones in our company’s history:

  • The RightPatient team was recently honored to be named a finalist in the CHIME National Patient ID Challenge. This is a true testament to the viability of our biometric patient identification solution and it should be noted that RightPatient was the only entry submitted from an individual/vendor who currently has customers actively using the technology in the healthcare market. 
  • We officially launched the RightPatient Smart App during this year’s HIMSS show, which turns any smartphone or tablet into a powerful recognition device. The RightPatient Smart App uses augmented reality and deep learning to identify patients, can quickly and easily identify unconscious patients, allows clinicians to verify a patient’s identity bedside prior to medical procedures, and has the potential to drastically improve patient safety and reduce the risk of adverse events.
  • We built the RightPatient platform to enable healthcare organizations to capture a high resolution image of the patient during the enrollment and identification process. This photo is immediately linked to the patient’s unique medical record and subsequently stored in our cloud environment, following them wherever they go within the care continuum. The photo allows healthcare organizations to verify a patient’s identity in virtual environments (e.g. telemedicine, patient portals) outside of brick and mortar settings. After all, the value of any patient identification technology rests in its ability to accurately ID a patient, no matter where they are. Patient photos also help to humanize health IT by putting a face to a name. Many of our existing customers have commented that the patient’s photo helps them to personalize their approach and make patients feel safer and more comfortable. 
  • The RightPatient patient identification solution uses photo biometrics to identify patients, a non-contact, hygienic form of biometrics that supports hospital infection control policies. Considering the increased attention on managing infection control in healthcare by keeping hands clean, we understood that patient ID innovation meant offering a solution to providers where a patient does not have to make physical contact with a biometric hardware device to avoid the spread of germs and illness.

We continue to innovate and evolve parallel to the rising challenges of establishing accurate patient ID in healthcare. For us, understanding the true meaning of patient ID innovation means designing and building a solution that not only address today’s obstacles and complexities, but has the flexibility to adapt to the challenges of tomorrow.

For a free, no obligation demo of the RightPatient patient identification solution, please contact us.

using patient photos to increase patient safety in healthcareMichael Trader is President and Co-Founder of RightPatient®. Michael is responsible for overseeing business development and marketing activities, government outreach, and for providing senior leadership on business and policy issues.

 

 

 

using biometrics for patient identification to increase patient safety

Patient Identification Deployment Video: Community Medical Centers

using biometrics for patient identification to increase patient safety

Community Medical Centers implemented RightPatient using photo biometrics for patient identification to increase patient safety. (Photo courtesy of Community Medical Centers).

There are myriad reasons why a healthcare organization seeks to implement a biometric patient identification solution. It could be to prevent duplicate medical records. Or, perhaps to increase revenue cycle management efficiency and returns. Maybe it’s in an effort to better protect patient medical identities. Whatever the reason, there is one recurring theme that is a constant in all biometric patient ID deployments – increasing patient safety.

A desire to improve patient safety by ensuring accurate patient identification was an important underlying goal for Community Medical Centers (CMC) when they made the decision to invest in RightPatient. Staff at CMC knew that RightPatient was an important part of their overall strategy to prevent medical record mix-ups and protect patients from error.

The staff at CMC assembled a video overview of their RightPatient deployment providing insight into the enrollment process and factors that led to their implementation decision:

 

As explained in the video, RightPatient is an image-based patient identification solution – a non-invasive, hygienic (non-contact), and easy-to-use technology that instantly links a patient’s photo to their unique medical record. In the case of CMC and many other RightPatient customers, the software becomes a seamless module of the Epic EHR workflows through a low-level integration.

Backed by 15 years of experience in biometric technology, RightPatient remains the industry’s most versatile and scalable biometric patient safety system, leveraging a powerful cloud-based intelligence engine to recognize patients by simply capturing their photo.

Our thanks to the staff at CMC for creating this patient identification deployment overview video!

If you want more information or would like to see a demo of RightPatient, please contact us.

patient safety infection control in healthcare

Key Steps To Keeping Infections Low For Your Patients During and After Surgery

patient safety infection control in healthcare

Strong infection control policies are an important factor to maintaining patient safety in healthcare. (Photo courtesy of Shutterstock)

The following is a guest post on how infection control impacts patient safety in healthcare.

While most patients undergoing surgery do not experience infection, surgical site infections still present a consistent challenge for surgeons and their patients. Surgical wound infections are one of the more common types of surgical site infection and postoperative complications. Detected approximately one week following a surgery, surgical wound infections are often attributed to poor surgical technique and contamination of the operative field.

The primary symptoms of surgical site infections are redness and pain at the surgical site, cloudy fluid draining from wound, and fever. Surgical wound infections will become red and inflamed if infection occurs.

When surgical site infections do occur they can raise treatment costs substantially. This is due to the fact that they necessitate prolonged hospitalization, antibiotic treatment, diagnostic care, and in rare cases, additional surgery.

Unfortunately, eliminating bacterial exposure of patients entirely pre-, during, and post-surgery is not possible. This is why broad-spectrum antibiotic use has become de rigeur for nearly all surgeries conducted with an anaesthetic. However, even this preventive method does not prevent all infections, and additional steps should be taken. Contrary to popular belief, pre-surgery preparations can be just as important as precautions taken during and after surgery.

Before Surgery

Surgeons often fixate on sterilization practices that pertain to them, sometimes at the expense of site sterilization of the patient. While washing the hands and arms up the elbows with antiseptic soap and wearing a mask, gloves, and gown are certainly important, the cleansing of the surgical site and attention to the patient are just as important.

Skin at and around the surgical site should be washed with an antibacterial soap, prior to the patient’s arrival in the operating room. The patient should also be sure to wear a fresh, clean hospital gown to the surgery. Even though the surgical site will be dressed post-procedure, this will reduce any additional exposure is critical to reducing infection rates as much as possible.

The patient should also be advised to not shave the area in the 48 hours leading up to surgery since razors can irritate the skin, making the area more prone to infection. If hair removal needs to occur in order to increase visibility of the site, it should be clipped rather than shaved.

In many instances, it is also advisable to administer preoperative antibiotics. Awareness of any other health indicators, such as a history of diabetes or smoking, can also help determine the patient’s likelihood for infection.

During Surgery

During surgery, the anaesthesiologist may be of more use in preventing infection than the surgeon. There is evidence that maintaining normothermia and supplementing with oxygen can help to reduce the risk of surgical infection. Consulting with the anaesthesiologist prior to surgery in order to develop an ideal procedure can be useful.

While concern for maintaining sterile surgical tools and a sterile field are certainly important, it is also imperative to consider that most contamination comes from the patient’s own microbiology. Bacteria, yeast and viral strains living on the patient’s skin are the primary source of contamination.

This necessitates the use of a pre-surgical scrub at the operation site. Those used most commonly are iodine- or chlorhexidine-based solutions. Alcohol-based solutions work differently than the first two by denaturing bacterial cell walls. There is some evidence that using a combination of scrub preparations yields better results.

Microbiota within the organ cavity may also play a role. The area of the body operated on is a key determinant in the prevalence of certain infections over others. For instance, cardiac, neurosurgery and ophthalmic surgery all carry increased risk of S aureus infection. Noncardiac thoracic surgery also increases risk of Streptococcus pneumoniae infection. Abdominal and gastrointestinal surgeries carry an increased risk of infection by gram-negative bacilli.

Being mindful of the operative field and reducing the number of tissues a single instrument touches can help to reduce infection rates.

how to improve patient safety in healthcare through infection control

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

After Surgery

Hand washing is just as important following the operation as it is in the scrub room. Advise nurses and all other staff to wash their hands prior to interacting with the patient, and certainly before assisting with examinations or arranging bed clothing. The patient’s visitors should also be advised to wash their hands and discouraged from touching the wound site or dressing.

When the patient is ready to be discharged, make sure that they have received clear instructions on how to care for their wound, quizzing them and caretakers if needed. Antibiotic care should be continued as indicated. Insisting on your availability for any questions involving follow up treatment can go a long way towards making sure that your patient takes the best care possible, preventing postoperative infection.

Mindful attention to detail in the prevention of infection from the time is admitted into the hospital to the time that they leave is the only way to reduce infection rates.

Key Steps To Keeping Infections Low For Your Patients During and After SurgeryAuthor Bio: Andrew is a keen student studying to become a dentist. His passion for dentistry first ignited when visiting his father at the local practice he worked for. He currently writes for Twentytooth.com and hopes that after studying he can open his own dental practice and help people in need with their oral health.

RightPatient for patient ID to reduce duplicate medical records

Photo Biometrics Patient Identification Testimonial – University Health Care System

RightPatient for patient ID to reduce duplicate medical records

The University Health Care System implemented RightPatient to help protect patient safety and reduce duplicate medical records.

We always relish an opportunity to visit hospitals and healthcare organizations who have made the smart choice to adopt photo biometrics for patient identification. Who better to share their story about events and conditions that lead to their decision to invest in RightPatient® Cloud?

We had an opportunity to sit down with George Ann Phillips, Administrative Director, Revenue Cycle at University Health Care in Augusta, GA to ask her why the hospital decided to invest in photo biometrics to increase patient safety, reduce chart corrections, duplicate medical records, improve revenue cycle collections, and humanize health IT by linking the patient’s photo to their electronic health record (EHR). Prior to implementing RightPatient®, University’s situation was not much different than many other healthcare organizations – a desire to prevent duplicate medical records, improve patient safety, streamline registration, and improve the patient experience.

After carefully evaluating RightPatient® against other biometric modalities, University decided that photo biometrics was a smarter investment and would help them to achieve their aforementioned goals. University staff liked the fact that by capturing the patient’s photo and storing it in the RightPatient® Cloud, they suddenly had the means to identify patients at any point along the care continuum – before portal login, during telemedicine sessions, and prior to administering medication or providing any clinical service. Clinicians immediately offered positive feedback to George Ann saying that having the patient’s photo linked to their medical record was an outstanding way to personalize their approach and gave them additional piece of mind to avoid any medical errors.

George Ann also pointed out that she was much more comfortable implementing photo biometrics because it supported hospital infection control policies and did not require the patient to touch any device to avoid the risk of contracting an illness or spreading germs. RightPatient® is the only biometric patient ID solution that is contactless and the only solution that truly has the ability to identify a patient no matter where they are along the care continuum. No other biometric identification solution can claim this.

University’s return on investment (ROI) has been strong since adopting RightPatient®:

  • 20% reduction in chart corrections
  • 99% patient acceptance (54,000+ patients enrolled so far)
  • Rapid deployment expansion to physician offices
  • Positive feedback from C-suite
  • Clinicians love seeing the patient’s photo
  • Streamlined patient registration
  • Improved patient experience

Take a moment to watch the short video here:

 

Thank you to George Ann Phillips and Beverly Bell from University for their assistance to make this video. Please share with a friend or colleague!

infection control to improve patient safety

Planning a Hospital Renovation? Tips To Monitor Infection Control

infection control to improve patient safety

Maintaining strong infection control is an important aspect of sustaining patient safety during hospital renovations. (Photo courtesy of pixabay)

The following guest post on infection control in healthcare was submitted by Ashton Blagden.

Hospital renovation or the construction process is not a small thing. You need to keep an eye on the entire process from time and again so that it completes on time without causing other issues. One of the most important thing that you need to keep in mind and look for while carrying out the hospital renovation is infection control.

Having an infection control process implemented and then forgetting about the whole thing is not done. You have to keep on monitoring the measures and make sure that everything works as per the plan.

So, here I am with a few effective tips that you can practice to control infection while carrying out the construction process in the hospital.

Get an infection control owner

It is not at all possible to control infection without having a person in charge of the things. So you need to have an infection control owner in place. But, this does not mean that the person has to make sure infection control is properly in place by completing the tasks on his own. The duty of such a person is to check out the things that need to be done and then assign the tasks to different people. After that, he needs to do a follow-up for the same from time to time. By having an infection control owner, you increase the chance of keeping the place infection-free as per the guidelines.

Invest in right resources

Having the right kind of infection control resources is very important, like for any other facility processes. The infection control should be given priority as if you follow the right procedures you will be able to save the lives of a good number of patients. So make sure you invest in the right resources along with your money and time.

Check out the negative air pressure areas

To keep the hospital premises pathogen free from the construction area, it is very important to maintain negative air pressure. But then, maintaining the negative air pressure is not easy too. So you have to keep on monitoring the area with negative air pressure and ensure that all the equipment placed there are working properly. The best two ways to check the negative air pressure is by going for a visual test using a flutter strip or smoke and by going for the manometer.

If the negative air pressure is not working then you can go for the option of HEPA filters. You need to keep on changing the filters regularly to monitor the area.

Keep learning

You need to be alert to make sure that all the infection control protocols are working and everything is in place to get the job done. To make the infection control process easier now a number of products are available in the market. You can implement them in the hospitals for the better results. The infection control contractors, as well as the hospital employees, should be educated about monitoring and practising the infection control.

For many, it may not be the best of concerns, but having proper infection control in place will lead to happy and healthy patients.

Guest Post from Ashton Blagden, Dealslands.co.uk

patient ID solutions for patient safety

How We Address the Patient ID Challenge in Healthcare

patient ID solutions for patient safety

We offer a “holistic” approach to patient ID in healthcare through an intuitive solution that has the ability to identify patients no matter where they are along the care continuum.

The Patient ID Challenge

It is well known that accurate patient identification in healthcare is a key linchpin for safe and effective care delivery. Traditionally defined as the ability to accurately identify a patient during a physical trip to the hospital or doctor’s office, the rapid digitization of healthcare has opened up a host of new touchpoints along the care continuum, creating a strong need for healthcare organizations to re-think their approach and evolve to a patient identification strategy beyond collecting a government issued ID, insurance cards and patient demographics. Many are evaluating the use of biometrics to improve patient identification accuracy and patient safety.

Healthcare organizations are in a sticky predicament. In addition to addressing the most common patient identification challenges, which include:

  • Patients having common names
  • No ID present
  • Patients stealing or sharing identities and insurance
  • Frequent flyers/drug seekers
  • Staff entering the wrong information

they must now factor in new touchpoints borne from the aforementioned digitization of the industry, such as:

  • Telemedicine 
  • Connected health/mHealth devices
  • Patient portals
  • Home health visits

In other words, healthcare organizations must now address patient ID in a “holistic” manner — adopting versatile technology that can be used at any point along the care continuum, no matter where a patient seeks care or access to protected health information (PHI).

As the healthcare industry transitions to value-based care, there is no arguing that the increase in new patient touchpoints along the care continuum has increased convenience and efficiency. However, it also raises new risks that can quickly pollute data integrity and endanger patient safety. Investing in a biometrc patient ID solution that covers in-person visits is smart, but without the ability to quickly scale the technology and cover the new touchpoints mentioned above, it can be a huge risk to healthcare organizations.

How RightPatient® Addresses the Patient ID Challenge

We approach the patient ID challenge from a different angle. Instead of pushing a biometric solution that limits healthcare providers to verifying patient identities when they arrive for an appointment or emergency, our patient identification platform uses biometrics, cognitive intelligence and deep learning to recognize patients at provider sites, during virtual encounters (e.g. patient portals, telemedicine) and in care environments outside of a hospital, clinic or doctor’s office.

Offering the industry’s most advanced, scalable, and versatile patient ID platform based on over 15 years of experience in biometrics, system integration and cloud computing, RightPatient’s core cognitive vision technology empowers healthcare providers to recognize patients with ease and accuracy from ANY end point:

How We Address the Patient ID Challenge in Healthcare

  • Patient ID – Accurately identify patients at registration areas, kiosks, the ED & more; retrieve the correct medical record to prevent duplicates, fraud & human error
  • Patient Photo – Improve safety and personalize the patient experience by embedding patient photos in the medical record and other applications through the RightPatient® photo integration server
  • Portable ID – Strengthen security and patient safety by recognizing patients during portal login, telehealth visits, other remote encounters, and with our unique PatientLens™ smartphone app
  • Analytics – Aggregate and analyze patient visit data, and access a concrete audit log of visits with patient photos for compliance and dispute resolution
photo biometrics for patient identification in healthcare

A patient takes “selfie” photo with a non-contact camera, which can be used for subsequent authentication at any point along the care continuum.

Using RightPatient, healthcare providers can accurately identify patients by simply taking their picture, offering these distinct advantages that no other patient ID solution can match:

  • No hygiene issues (non-contact)
  • The most accurate solution – nearly 3 times more accurate than any other method
  • Scalable, real-time duplicate prevention (identify without having to enter DOB or other credentials)
  • Very fast enrollment & 1:N matching speed (identify in seconds)
  • Minimum enrollment age: 1 year
  • Simultaneous photo capture
  • Not locked into a single device or manufacturer ; lowers long-term risk

We extend the flexibility of our intuitive and best-of-breed patient ID platform through PatientLens™ which turns any off-the-shelf smartphone or tablet into a reliable patient identification tool, empowering clinicians to accurately identify patients through its combination of facial recognition and deep learning capabilities. Designed to quickly identify a patient by using the camera on any smart device, PatientLens™ reduces risk and improves quality by enabling clinicians to easily and accurately verify patient identities, even when they are unconscious.

Conclusion

The inability to accurately identify a patient throughout the care continuum is a huge risk for healthcare providers. Healthcare digitization and the explosion of virtual access to data and care necessitates a more “holistic” approach to patient identification. This will improve patient safety and reduce provider costs while preventing the risk of data breach and adverse health events.

Healthcare organizations need a versatile, scalable solution with seamless EHR integration that removes the IT burden during implementation and offers a flexible adoption model. If you have been thinking about adopting biometrics for patient identification for your organization and want to learn more about our solution and how we are revolutionizing this critical part of effective and safe care delivery, please visit us at HIMSS in Booth 3015 to see a demo and learn more.

Can’t make it by our booth? Please join us for a beverage at the Georgia HIMSS Chapter reception and sign up here for the event. 

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.

weak hospital infection control policies endanger patient safety in healthcare

Infection Control – 5 Things Your Doctor Didn’t Tell You About C. DIFF

weak hospital infection control policies endanger patient safety in healthcare

The danger of weak hospital infection control policies is a direct threat to patient safety in healthcare. (Photo courtesy of Pixabay)

The following guest post on infection control and patient safety in healthcare was submitted by Evan Kaden.

Every year, patients are admitted to the hospital for various reasons. Some for surgery, others for acute or chronic illnesses, but all have the same expectation: to get well. Most are unaware of the risks that come with hospitalization and find themselves uneducated about them. C. Diff infection is no exception. While the doctors and nurses are required to inform you of an infection, that doesn’t mean that they have the time to explain the details of it. This article will explain what you and your family needs to know about C. Diff and how to prevent infection.

WHAT IS C. DIFF?

Clostridium Difficile, commonly known as C. Difficile or C. Diff, is the bacteria prominently known for causing infectious diarrhea. C. Difficile accounts for approximately less than 4% of the bacteria present in the intestinal tract. Everyone doesn’t have this bacterium in their system, but those who do typically have a healthy balance. In a healthy person, the bacteria do not pose a threat, but if there is an imbalance between the good and bad bacteria in one’s body, that can spell big trouble. A C. Diff infection is known as a “Nosocomial Infection”. This type of infection is one that is acquired in a hospital setting, during a prolonged stay. There are various types of C. Diff but the most common strain is the North American Pulsed Field type 1, better NAP1, which can lead to serious illness.

HOW DO PATIENTS GET C. DIFF?

C.Diff is often found in patients who are in long term care and are receiving antibiotic treatment for long periods of time. It also occurs in patients who receive a high dose of antibiotics. While antibiotics are beneficial for treating various conditions, they also destroy the good bacteria. Without the proper balance, the C. Diff bacteria that was once tamed, now has the opportunity to go rampant. Elderly patients and those with compromised immunity are particularly at risk. Patients can also contract C. Diff through physical contact. The bacterium is passed through spores found in feces. These spores can live on surfaces for months. Health facilities risk an outbreak if soiled linens and contaminated surfaces are not properly sterilized. Healthcare workers contribute to this risk when good hand hygiene is not practiced. Other factors that increase risk are: Gastro Intestinal surgery, IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), Chemotherapy drugs, Renal disease, a weak immune system and a previous C. Diff infection.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?

C. Diff symptoms include:

Watery Diarrhea (3-15 times per day)
Severe abdominal pain
Nausea
Appetite Loss
Fever
Bloody Stool
Weight loss

C. Diff creates toxins that cause the colon to become damaged and inflamed. Different strains cause various levels of illness. NAP1, as mentioned before is the most common strain of C. Difficile bacteria. C. Difficle is diagnosed when a patient develops diarrhea during hospitalization, while on current antibiotic treatment or within two months of a past treatment. The physician will request a stool sample to confirm the presence of C.Difficile and to determine if it is a serious infection. Most cases are mild but with the right course of action can be treated efficiently and effectively.

HOW IS IT TREATED?

The first course of action is to discontinue the current antibiotic treatment. This method usually allows for the healthy bacteria to be replenished and eradicate the C. Diff overgrowth within a few days. The physician may order treatment using Metronidazole or Vancomycin. These drugs stop the growth of C.Difficile. Another form of treatment is Probiotics, which has been proven to prevent recurring infections. If the infection leads to more serious issues, surgery may be required to remove damaged portions of the colon. This is level of treatment is rare.

Safety Precautions

Most hospitals have implemented hand hygiene education and policies for the medical staff as well as protective equipment such as gloves and gowns for those who deliver direct care to the infected patient. There are signs posted on the doors and walls of patients who have C. Diff, but it can be confusing for the common person to understand. This list of precautions can save you and your family from contracting or spreading the infection:

1. Wash hands thoroughly with soap for at least 20 seconds frequently
(Most recommend singing the Alphabet or Happy Birthday song as a timer)
2. Ask the staff if the chairs and surfaces have been cleaned with Chlorine Bleach prior to entering the room.
3. Put on any protective gear that is placed at the entry of the patient’s room. This includes gowns and/or masks.
4. Avoid contact with the patient’s bedding. If the patient needs to be moved or cleaned, seek assistance from a nurse. Fecal matter isn’t always visible to the eye. If contact is made with the bed linens or surface, wash your hands right after.
5. Avoid using the patient’s restroom while visiting. C. Diff spores can live on surfaces for long periods of time. To avoid infection, use the visitor designated restrooms.

With rising concerns regarding C. Diff infections, it is easy to understand why patients may consider an alternative option. One of those options is CDPAP, Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Program. This is a Medicaid program that allows the patient to receive home care and participate in his or her care plan. This alternative provides patients who have experience past C. Diff infections with a way to be treated in the environment where they feel the safest. With the proper knowledge and practices, we can work with the healthcare community to lessen the occurrence of C. Diff infections and ensure safe experiences for all patients.

infection control is an important aspect of patient safety in healthcareEvan is a rare-breed of freelance writers who, believe it or not, doesn’t drink coffee! With a passion for sustainability and quality of life, he’s grateful for the opportunities he’s had to share his thoughts and stories with people through this crazy place called the internet.

poor infection controlposes serious risks

Poor Infection Control at Hospitals Poses Serious Risks to Patient Safety

infection control and patient safety in healthcare

What is the most effective way to reduce hospital borne infections to increase patient safety in healthcare?

The following guest post on infection control in healthcare was submitted by Cade Parian.

Millions Impacted

There are an estimated 1.7 million cases of hospital-acquired infections every year. Almost 100,000 of those cases result in death.

Infections contracted in hospital settings are technically called healthcare-associated infections or HAI’s. They are caused by exposure to bacteria, fungi, or viruses while in a healthcare setting. Common healthcare procedures where infections are introduced are during surgery; catheter insertion; ventilation services; and any type of injection.

The Centers for Disease Control estimate that 1 in 20 hospitalized patients develop some type of infection.

Common Types of Infection

Some Healthcare-Acquired Infections go unnoticed with little harm. However, others are devastating. Patients endure physical pain and suffering as well as financial devastation due to the increased treatment costs. Some infections cause permanent damage and even death.

Catheter-Assisted Urinary Tract Infections – One of the more preventable infections. It often occurs when a catheter is left in a patient too long. Commonly affected areas are the urethra, bladder, ureters, and kidneys.

Pneumonia Caused by Ventilators – Infection that develops 48 hours or more after mechanical ventilation is given. The lower respiratory tract or lung parenchyma is invaded by microorganisms causing this infection.

Necrotizing Fascitis or Flesh Eating Bacteria – While rare, this serious bacterial infection spreads quickly and kills the body’s soft tissue.

Clostridium Difficile or C. diff – These bacteria live in your digestive tract. When these bacteria overgrow, it releases toxins that attack the lining of the intestines. 14,000 deaths (mostly the elderly) are caused each year.

Carbapenem-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae or CRE – These germs are highly resistant to antibiotics. More than 50% of the cases cause death. Most cases are caused by improper use of a duodenoscope. There are multiple types of CRE’s including:
• Klebsiella;
• Escherichia Coli or E. Coli;
• Klebsiella Pheumoniae Carbapenemase or KPC;
• New Delhi Metallo-beta-lactamase or NDM; and
• Verona Integron-Mediated Metallo-Lactamase or VIM.

Meningitis – The meninges are the protective lining around the brain and spinal cord. Meningitis often comes in outbreaks of multiple cases. Usually a contaminated instrument or drug causes the meningitis to spread.

Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus or MRSA – These bacteria live in your nose and on your skin. When it enters surgical sites, it becomes invasive. It can lead to heart valve infections, bone infections, organ abscesses, joint infections, and sepsis or blood poisoning. The danger is bigger for MRSA, because it is not commonly killed by standard antibiotics.

Sepsis – A deadly blood infection that triggers widespread inflammation of the body. It affects over 1 million American each year. Multiple organ failure and even death are caused by sepsis or septicemia.

Infections Cost Healthcare Billions

JAMA Internal Medicine issued a study in September 2013 estimating that healthcare-acquired infections cost the US healthcare system almost $10 billion per year. Many of those infections are preventable.

The average cost of treating common hospital infections are:
• Central Line Associated Bloodstream Infections – $45,000
• Ventilator-Associated Pneumonia – $40,144
• Surgical Site Infections – $20,785
• C. Diff. – $11,000

There are several things hospital staff can do in order to minimize risk of hospital-acquired infections such as:

• Washing hands often
• Keeping patient skin clean around wounds
• Wear gowns, masks and gloves

Hospital infections should be prevented in order to reduce morbidity, mortality, duration of hospital stay, and cost. Good hygiene and aseptic techniques have generally proved to be successful, but these practices are often not sustainable. Keeping constant watch and following the simple steps above could help minimize the risk of infections.

Cade Parian is a Metro Atlanta Personal Injury Lawyer representing injured people all over the nation. His folksy demeanor coupled with his ability to fit into any social and professional situation make him an attorney called upon by clients and other attorneys alike. A husband and father of two young children, he enjoys being the worst golfer on any golf course at any time when not preparing for trial or chasing children.

how to increase patient safety in healthcare

6 Tips for Helping Your Patients Feel Safe in Your Office

how to increase patient safety in healthcare

Learn more about practical tips you can adopt at the doctor’s office to increase patient safety.

The following guest post on patient safety in healthcare was submitted by Kara Masterson.

The relationship between patients and their medical care providers is fundamental to the effectiveness of treatment. A lot of people don’t feel comfortable in doctors’ offices, some more than others. Professionals such as dentists, counselors, and therapists can have a hard time dealing with scared patients. A doctor must have a way to forge a relationship and maintain it throughout, and that begins by making patients feel safe when they visit your office. Here are just a few tips to help make that possible:

Polite Staff

Some of the fears that individuals have are results of bad experiences that start at the reception desk of a doctor’s office. The first encounter that a patient gets shapes their perception of how the place operates, so if it’s a bad one, it will affect how they behave when they see you. Ensure that all the staff members know how to talk to patients and keep the comfortable.

Non-Threatening Surroundings

Fear of a doctor’s office may arise from the environment that patients have to be in when they come for their appointments. This problem is, especially a common one in dentists’ offices where patients take one look and fear sets in. Bric-a-brac spread around the room can distract patients from intimidating tools or equipment present in the settings. Kid-friendly furniture, TV, toys, and play areas can also make your office more accommodating to kids.

Initiate Conversations

Some patients find it hard to open up when undergoing therapy, making it necessary to try a few tactics to get them to talk. Therapists and counselors who have been through social work doctoral programs have the skills to communicate with patients in ways that calm their fears. You should establish a technique to talk to patients that include using the right language, words, and tone.

Sensitivity

Good bedside manners will go a long way in getting rid of fears in your patients. Things like disrobing for tests can be uncomfortable for some people, so be sensitive to their feelings and reassure them when they need it. People always like having someone there for them that is sensitive to how they are feeling.

Explain

Doctors sometimes forget that patients don’t have an inherent knowledge of what they are talking about and ramble on and on when giving information. Take the time to lay out details for a patient and take them through every step. Don’t confuse patients with jargon. By taking time to explain to your patients in their language what is happening you can really help make them feel more comfortable.

Engage

A patient may have concerns such as the cost of treatment and financing options but may be too afraid to ask you upfront. The NCBH recommends engaging patients by asking questions to open opportunities.

Overall, there are tons of different things you can do to help your patients feel comfortable in your office. You want to make sure that you space is comfortable and secure for everyone that comes in it. Not only can that help make your patients feel good, but it can help you feel good as well.

Kara Masterson is a freelance writer from Utah. She graduated from the University of Utah and enjoys writing and spending time with her dog, Max.