By Lisa Fonkalsrud, BSN, RN, CGRN
Infection prevention continues to be an issue that is top of mind for GI professionals. When thinking of gastroenterology infection prevention, it traditionally has been in terms of reprocessing endoscopes and post-procedure patient phone call to assess for infections. Infection prevention for GI encompasses so much more than those two tasks — it includes correct use of personal protective equipment (PPE), personal hygiene, engineering controls of the physical environment, cleaning and disinfection of surfaces, training, continuing education, written operating procedures, and of course documentation. Earlier this year, SGNA released practice documents focused on infection prevention. The new document, Standard of Infection Prevention in the Gastroenterology Setting, brings to light an important point that is often overlooked when we discuss infection prevention: Prevention for the whole team.
Safety is an issue that impacts all of us – regardless of role or title. We want to provide the highest level of care for our patients, but we also need to care for ourselves and our work environment. Having a collaborative approach is crucial. It is of vital importance for each member of the team to feel empowered to speak up with regards to infection prevention. It is just as important to recognize good infection prevention behavior as it is to point out and correct poor infection prevention behavior. Is someone doing a great job? They need to know. Does someone need to improve? They also need to know. It is more than just the manager’s job to ensure that there is a safe environment. Everyone needs to be vigilant. It is only through team collaboration that a safe environment can be achieved.
One ideal way to kick off collaboration within your team is to take time out of the workplace and attend the SGNA Annual Course. Packed with continuing education and networking events, the Annual Course brings together passionate professionals from around the globe. As someone who has attended for 17 years, I always leave feeling invigorated and reinvested in my specialty. The 43rd Annual Course was held May 22-24, 2016 in Seattle. Course highlights regarding infection prevention included: A General Session comprised of a panel of distinguished practitioners discussing Infection Prevention; a Train the Trainer Optional Session discussing endoscope reprocessing; as well as multiple concurrent sessions covering topics from team building, to endoscope reprocessing, to infection control in the GI setting.
Another way to collaborate with the GI team and refresh infection prevention plans is participation in the Infection Prevention Champions Program. Now in its third year, the Champions Program provides facilities a chance to assess and analyze current practices and map a plan for improvement. This is a great way to empower an employee as a Champion and then get the whole team involved in the improvement process. It really does take a collaborative effort. Visit www.sgna.org/InfectionPrevention to learn more about this exceptional program. Consider enrolling now to participate in the summer term, beginning June 1.
As the leading voice for GI nursing professionals, SGNA has training and educational resources for everyone on the team. The newly released Associates Program provides in-depth education specifically for GI technicians, including the nine steps for reprocessing introduced in the revised Standards of Infection Prevention in Reprocessing Flexible Gastrointestinal Endoscopes. Explore additional educational resources online at www.sgna.org, and make sure you are aware of updates and offerings by connecting with @SGNAonline on Facebook or Twitter.
Lisa Fonkalsrud, BSN, RN, CGRN, is SGNA's 2015-2016 president.