One of the primary focuses of hospital departments, such as infection control and the sterile processing departments, is to reduce the Hospital Acquired Infections (HAIs) in the patient care settings. Many US hospitals struggle with this because they are lacking departmental stakeholders that have time to make this their priority and aren’t adhering to manufactures’ instructions. Infection control, if not taken seriously, can be a huge financial and reputational risk that exists when an outbreak of a superbug occurs in a hospital. Health technology management (HTM) professionals can and should be key stakeholders in the input and involvement as they are trained in safety culture and are able to step in when they see problems and ensure they are addressed properly.
Fortunately, some healthcare facilities have begun to make HTM professionals, or biomedical engineering technicians, an integral part of their infection control programs and healthcare compliance standards. HTM professionals can and should be involved in monitoring, managing, and providing additional insight to ensure protocols are adhered to and manufacturer instructions followed carefully.
Hospitals are continually educating employees and patients about infection control and how hand hygiene plays a large role in HAI transmission. What is not often covered in these educational pieces is where the superbugs reside and how to stop them before they get out of control. Biomeds and HTM professionals understand the hot spots of infectious bacteria and where they like to hide on medical equipment, portable, stationary and their respective peripherals that need to be monitored. With biomeds and HTM professionals working with your hospitals, you can be assured that they know and understand the technology necessary to control the sterile environments and keep them that way.
Walnut Creek, California-based John Muir Health is becoming one of the leading hospitals to take initiative in infection prevention and control through forming strong inter-departmental cooperation with the biomedical engineering department. The HTM professionals are involved in processing new devices when they enter the hospital and adding them to the system, including collecting and following necessary instructions from the original equipment manufacturer (OEM). Currently implemented practices have all recalls and alerts directed to the biomedical engineering department who will also address any misuse or devise damage. Nader Hammoud, the health network’s biomedical engineering manager, reveals “We developed a full cooperative relationship with infection control managers and work very closely to track and address all opportunities for improvements from an infection control perspective,” While his department refers to AAMI for guidelines, he explains “any modification or alteration to the processes in place must be blessed by infection control, as we believe this is their field of expertise, and our cooperation will result in better and safer service to the patients.”
Electronic asset management programs are also available and should be implemented to help with scheduling preventative maintenance, cleaning and inspection of all medical devices, according to OEM recommendations. With the use of electronic asset management programs, biomedical engineers are able to effectively maximize their efforts to keep infectious outbreaks from occurring.
Infection control is an ever-evolving situation and one that ERD biomedical engineers are eager to help your healthcare facilities with. Let’s talk solutions before it’s too late.