Six Tips to Prevent & Control Infections in Home Health Care
The new Home Health Conditions of Participation (CoPs) demand a greater focus on infection prevention and control. They state that as a component of an agency’s QAPI program, it must establish, document, and maintain a home health infection prevention & control program with a goal of preventing and controlling communicable diseases.
Home Health Infection Surveillance, Prevention & Control
- Develop an infection surveillance program. A formal infection surveillance program allows agencies to effectively manage the safety and quality of patient care by understanding trends and establishing improvement efforts. First, agencies should establish a baseline for volume and severity of infections across all patients. Then, agencies should analyze outcomes and processes, monitor high risk/high volume events, and determine the cost or negative impact on the agency. Agencies must have a deep understanding of this information to effectively manage and improve infection prevention and control efforts.
- Educate your staff. Home health clinicians may have previously adopted infection control practices based on acute care practices, many of which are unnecessary, impractical, and costly in the home setting. Your staff should be trained on infection control principles as they relate to home health care to effectively evaluate the risk of infections at the point of care, implement strategies to prevent infections, and control infections should they occur.
- Focus on higher risk patient care practices. According to the CDC, home health infection prevention strategies should focus on home infusion therapy, urinary tract care, respiratory care, wound care, and enteral therapy. The lack of control over the home environment can lend itself to a higher risk of infection associated with these treatments.
- Reduce the risk of infections associated with equipment, devices, and supplies. Agencies should provide clinicians with sufficient and appropriate supplies including hand hygiene products, personal protective equipment, and injection equipment to minimize the risk of contamination and therefore, infections.
- Educate your patients. Inform your patients about potential risk of infections and teach them ways to prevent infections during the course of care. Ongoing reminders and continuous education as they advance through their course of care keep risks and prevention efforts top of mind.
- Ongoing evaluation and management. Once an agency has a formal program established, it must continuously leverage collected data to evaluate effectiveness and drive improvement. Changes from previous data should be noted, and substantially high or low infection rates should be examined because they may signify a problem that needs immediate attention. HEALTHCAREfirst offers comprehensive tools and reports to help agencies assess the effectiveness of infection prevention and control efforts, improve care, and ensure regulatory compliance.
The HEALTHCAREfirst Difference
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