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Investigators found that a prompt on a disinfection tracking system led to an increase rate of the disinfection of computers on wheels at a veterans’ hospital in Texas.
As portable medical devices wind their way from hospital unit to hospital unit, they might be dragging the pathogens that cause healthcare-acquired infections (HAIs) along with them. Unfortunately, there are no national protocols for disinfecting these portable medical devices (aside from manufacturer recommendations); the protocols for disinfecting them differ from institution to institution. Investigators with the Central Texas Veterans Health Care System wanted to see how well a disinfection tracking system (DTS) device would work in alerting healthcare professionals when computers-on-wheels or vitals machines needed to be disinfected. They unveiled their findings in a study (“HAI Prevention: SSIs, Disinfection, and Hand Hygiene100—Effect of Disinfection Tracking System on Cleaning Events of Portable Medical Equipment”) at ID Week.
They found that a prompt on the DTS device led to an increase rate of disinfection for computers-on-wheels. In addition, disinfections of both the computers-on-wheels and vitals machines were done more times than mandated by the healthcare system. “Additionally, it captured disinfection events successfully on the database demonstrating [that the DTS device can be an effective] tool for demonstration of compliance,” the study states.
Some of the data were gathered over 25 days in an acute care unit that had been recently equipped with a DTS device. In this part of the experiment, the DTS display screen had been turned off. Then came 42 days with the display screen on, which told the operators the number of hours since the last recorded disinfection event.
The DTS devices were placed on 10 computer-on-wheels and 5 vitals machines. “An interrupted time series analysis, using a Bayesian model compared the number of events in the display screen-off to the screen-on period,” the study states.
When the DTS screen was on during the 42-day trial period, there were 845 disinfections; with 104 events on the vitals machine and 741 on the computers-on-wheels.
“The mean events per device per day in the screen-on period for [computers-on-wheels] were 1.32 (1.10 – 1.57) times greater than those in the screen-off period,” the study states. “The mean events per device per day in the screen-on period for [vitals machines] was 1.37 (0.89 – 2.01) times greater than those in the screen-off period.”
The tracking of HAIs has become much more problematic since the arrival of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.In an article for Infection Control Today®, Rebecca Leach, RN, BSN, MPH, CIC, wrote that “not only were [infection prevention] programs stretched during the pandemic as part of the public health response, but also the HAI reporting was still being done. [Infection preventionists] had to figure out how to manage all the workload of the pandemic response and continue to keep surveillance and data reporting current and active.”
Leach, a member of ICT®’s Editorial Advisory Board, added that “the work of HAI prevention was also impacted similarly, with less time for IPs to do rounding and focus on the elements that contribute to HAIs. As the national data is analyzed and released in coming months, it will be interesting to see if HAIs were impacted by COVID-19 and to understand exactly how a pandemic influences HAI prevention efforts. Anecdotally, patients with COVID-19 were seen to be high risk for HAIs, particularly CLABSI and CAUTI, due to long lengths of stay, duration of ICU admissions, proning treatments to help with respiratory function and other unique aspects of care.”