Are we over-complicating effective hand hygiene technique?

The WHO method for hand hygiene is very well embedded as the ‘gold standard’ for hand hygiene technique. But is it feasible to perform every time in the busy clinical environment? A new study in Clinical Infectious Diseases seems to suggest that a shorter, simpler hand hygiene method be just as effective and more feasible in the real world.

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Cheap and slow (culture) is usually better than fast and expensive (PCR) for CPE screening: Bertha says so!

BMC Medicine has published some research from our group reporting the findings of a mathematical model comparing various approaches to screening for CPE carriage. The model compared how several operational metrics varied with different approaches to screening (‘slow and cheap’ laboratory culture vs. ‘fast and expensive’ PCR) and in various specialties with variable levels of compliance with CPE admission screening and at various levels of admission prevalence of CPE. The main conclusion was that culture proved to be the best approach in most scenarios, balancing risk and resource.

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A Reflection from HIS 2018: What is the main driver for C. difficile infection? Antibiotics or C. difficile acquisition?

I made a flying visit to HIS today in Liverpool to have a debate with Prof Mark Wilcox on whether or not antibiotics are the most important factor in healthcare-associated C. difficile infection. Mark was arguing for the motion, and I was arguing against it. And the result…well you’ll have to read to the bottom!

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Keeping hospitals clean and safe without breaking the bank

A paper has just been published in ARIC as the first academic output of the Healthcare Cleaning Forum. I blogged earlier this year to relate the inaugural Healthcare Cleaning forum, and this paper expands on the key themes: establishing environmental hygiene as a patient safety initiative, providing an overview of the importance of environmental hygiene in healthcare, exploring the human factors driving the standards of environmental hygiene along with the need for effective education, the possibilities and challenges of automation, and the cost and value of environmental hygiene.

One of the key aims of the forum is to be a champion for environmental hygiene professionals. There’s a famous story of when president JFK visited NASA and asked a janitor who was mopping the floor what they were doing. The answer was simple and profound: “I’m helping to put a man on the moon.” If you asked somebody working in environmental hygiene in your hospital what they were doing, would the response be: “I’m helping to maximise patient safety and prevent healthcare-associated infection.” Probably not. We need to champion the cause of environmental hygiene professionals, who lack professional status, are often not paid enough, and often have limited options for career progression.

Is environmental a treasured investment priority in hospitals?

Related to this is our perception of the cost and value of environmental hygiene in hospitals. Is our level of investment appropriate given the risks associated with inadequate environmental hygiene in hospitals? Would we really find highly valued cleaning and disinfection materials in the metaphorical safe of a hospital manager (see the cartoon above)? Probably not! We need work towards better evidence to understand the value of environmental hygiene in hospitals in the context of other investment priorities.

Are alcohol gels doomed by resistant bacteria?

A high profile article was published earlier this year in Science Translational Medicine, suggesting that Enterococcus faecium can exhibit clinically relevant levels of tolerance to alcohol-based hand hygiene products. The article has generated a huge amount of press coverage and discussion amongst experts. So, I thought it was about time I gave the article a once over. My initial thought was this would be unhelpful extrapolation of low-level tolerance to alcohol gel that wouldn’t be meaningful in a clinical setting. But having read the paper, there’s genuine concern here. Overall though, if true resistance to alcohol gel was going to be a problem, I’m pretty sure it would have reared its ugly head already.

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