Hospitals Leverage Patient Flow Software to Automate Infection Control

July 23, 2010

Methodist Healthcare in San Antonio, Texas and the University of Virginia (UVA) Medical Center are linking patient infection status to automated patient flow and bed management software from TeleTracking Technologies, clearly and instantaneously communicating isolation information to all hospital staff.

Infection control processes often rely on written lists to identify and communicate isolation areas, lists that are not shared with all staff and may be outdated from the moment they are recorded. The resulting communications gap leaves staff vulnerable to inadvertent exposure, particularly nursing, environmental services and transport personnel as they travel most widely through a hospital facility. This exposure potentially endangers the entire hospital population. Each year, healthcare-acquired infections (HAIs) cost hospitals up to $45 billion and claim more than 100,000 lives, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

"A patient may be well documented as an infection case within one unit, but if transportation personnel are not aware, they may move that patient to another floor along with the contaminated wheelchair and the infection, says Susan Sewell, RN, Methodists vice president of patient management. We now require infection status to be entered into our bed management software before assigning a patient a bed, as all staff can access the system.

Methodist requires infection status to be recorded in the Isolation and Type fields of TeleTrackings Capacity Management Suite before a patient will be assigned a bed. Previously, patients were regularly tested for infection upon admission but were often assigned a room before test results were returned. At UVA, infection control nurses must indicate isolation status from 50 different indicators that have been created within their bed management system. This information is then clearly marked on TeleTrackings electronic bedboard® to inform all staff about isolation areas.

We are integrating infection control nurses into the patient flow loop, says Maggie Short, administrator of UVAs bed center. By empowering our infection control staff to monitor infection status and bed placement through our patient flow software, we are sharing that information in real-time with all staff and ensuring patients are placed in the proper rooms.

A feature within TeleTrackings Capacity Management Suite, known as Patient Placement Indicators (PPIs), are used to identify special needs a patient may have, including infection and isolation requirements. This information is instantaneously communicated to all staff levels, eliminating several steps and potentially hazardous gaps in the traditional infection communications process. PPIs can also match patients with a specific infection and group their room assignments by cohort.