Preventing Bloodstream Infections in Dialysis
Words matter, especially when the topic is bloodstream infections.
Norma Gomez, program manager for safety and infection prevention at Satellite Healthcare, recently came right to the point in a presentation to about 500 professionals at a National Kidney Foundation Conference in San Francisco.
She emphasized that hand washing is the best way to prevent the spread of infections in a healthcare environment. The challenge is getting staff to adhere to policies and practices that require hand washing before interacting with each patient.
Prevention is the best form of control, and bloodstream infections are a serious matter. Infections are the #2 killer of dialysis patients behind only cardiac arrest.
In the U.S., there are more than 400,000 people relying on hemodialysis care. Each year about 37,000 people get potentially deadly bloodstream infections related to their hemodialysis treatment.
Dialysis patients have compromised immune systems and are susceptible to bloodstream infections. All of the non-disposable equipment in the room – chairs, blood pressure cuffs and machines – can be a source of infection. They all need to be sanitized regularly.
But the most common source of infections is the staff. Sanitizing hands and changing gloves is the best practice.
At Satellite, repetitive training and practice audits are tools in the battle but there’s still work to be done to achieve hand sanitizing discipline.
Satellite cannot prevent all infections for its patients, but it is making great progress. Bloodstream infections are 43 percent lower at Satellite compared to nationwide results.