Hospital infections (those acquired within a hospital) happen all the time, all over the country. Shockingly, infections acquired inside hospitals kill roughly 300 Americans every day, according to Edmond Hooker of Xavier University. These infections can occur for a slew of reasons ranging from unclean remote controls in hospital rooms to bacteria harbored on doctors’ neckties. However, one of the largest culprits for hospital infections are the small and complex instruments used during various operations.
Flawed “Reprocessing” Efforts Causing Hospital Infections
As hospitals continue to see technical advancements in how they treat illnesses and operate on injuries, the instruments they use become smaller and more complex. And while these instruments make it possible for doctors to quickly and efficiently address a wide array of health issues, the instruments themselves may be leaving behind the smallest traces of old tissue, blood, or other “gunk” from past operations. The problem is with flawed reprocessing efforts.
“Reprocessing” is the term assigned to sterilizing instruments used during operations (for example, the tiny devices employed during endoscopies). Reprocessing technicians thoroughly clean each small instrument before it is used for another operation. Unfortunately, these instruments are being designed and manufactured at such rates that it is becoming difficult for reprocessing technicians to adequately clean each unique piece. Not to mention that manufacturers don’t always supply technicians with through reprocessing instructions.
Linda Condon, an R.N. at Johns Hopkins Hospital, says the cleaning guidelines for one particularly complicated instrument said, simply, “use neutral detergent and wipe clean.” For equipment which has nearly microscopic grooves within which bacteria might reside unseen, these instructions do not prepare technicians well enough.
How to Help Ensure You Do Not Acquire a Hospital Infection
Doing research on your prospective hospital helps. Unfortunately, there are no available statistics regarding cases of hospital infections acquired by unclean instruments, as hospitals are not required to report these cases. However, there are resources which can rate a hospital in other ways, many of which can help you choose the cleanest and most efficient hospital for your operation.
Check out Hospital Compare (www.hospitalcompare.hhs.gov) to see how the hospitals in your area size up when compared to one another. The website makes use of patient surveys to offer information on a hospital’s cleanliness, how communicative the staff is, and the quality of treatment.
Just search your city or zip code and then indicate which hospitals in your area you would like to compare. The website will then offer you a plethora of information on your chosen hospitals, summing findings up in easy-to-read percentages so you may choose your preferred hospital effortlessly.
For more information on hospital infections and how to prevent one from happening to you, see this link.