Hospital Infection Control Policies Often Are Not Followed: Study
New research suggests that many hospitals are not following guidelines and procedures that are designed to reduce the risk of hospital-acquired infections, unnecessarily placing their patients at risk.
In a study published this month in the American Journal of Infection Control, researchers from the RAND Corporation and the Center for Health Policy at Columbia University looked at the state of infection prevention at U.S. hospitals. The findings suggest that there were very few infection preventionists on staffs and of those, even fewer were certified or had sufficient support staff.
Researchers called on 3,374 acute care hospitals to provide infection control data. Only 975, or 29%, responded.
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According to the study, there were only 1.2 infection preventionists (IPs) per 100 hospital beds on average, and the number of those certified were low. The data also indicated very low levels of average hours per week devoted to data management and secretarial support for those IPs, resulting in an overall picture that indicates that many hospitals are not taking infection prevention as seriously as some experts say they should.
Researchers determined that the guidelines for IP staffing in acute care hospitals need to be updated.
More than 2 million hospital infections and 1.5 million nursing home and long term care infections occur each year, according to prior data provided by the CDC.
In recent years, an increasing number of medical malpractice lawsuits over hospital infections are being filed, as many experts believe that these infections can be prevented with the exercise of reasonable care.
According to prior research, preventable hospital infections cost the U.S. Economy nearly $19.5 billion in 2008 and claimed more than 2,500 lives that year.
Implementation of simple procedures, such as more frequent hand washing for healthcare professionals, timely removal of catheters deterring prolonged use and thorough instrument and patient room cleaning are widely recognized steps that can prevent many of these hospital infection problems. Infection preventionists are hospital staff members charged with overseeing the facility’s infection control programs and making sure the policies are effective and implemented hospital-wide.
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