A hospital visit can save a patient’s life. It can also destroy it if they pick up a virulent healthcare-associated infection (HAI). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that on any given day, 1 in 31 hospital patients have at least one HAI.
Annually, an estimated 1.7 million people develop HAIs, and 99,000 people die from them, making this a leading cause of death in hospitalized patients. Ventilator-associated pneumonia is a primary cause of these infections, but there are many paths of entry into the body. Medical providers, including EMS professionals, are the first line of defense against HAI.
Here are the most important strategies for reducing the risk of HAI from suction canisters.
Be Diligent and Aggressive About Hygiene
The most important step for preventing HAI is also the most obvious—and the most often neglected. Simple, basic hygiene is key to slowing the spread of all infections. This requires mindfulness, and a willingness to slow down even when it’s not convenient. You can improve the process by encouraging patients to become active participants.
Place signs reminding them to wash their own hands, and tell them that they can ask you to wash your hands too. Diligently wash your hands before and after touching patients or equipment, eating or smoking, and at all other times when you make contact with your mouth or any other potentially contaminated surface.
Wear the Right Personal Protective Equipment
Personal protective equipment (PPE) has become the norm during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, many providers have reported that for the first time ever, they did not get sick during cold and flu season. If PPE lingers after the pandemic ends, the spread of many HAIs might slow, or maybe even halt. If PPE is in limited supply, at least wear it during procedures that have a high risk of aerosolizing contagious particles.
Minimize Patient Exposure
Many of your treatment decisions may increase patient exposure to infectious agents without you even realizing it. Consider how minor changes in the way you practice can slow the spread of HAI. Some tactics include:
- Treating patients in their rooms or in their homes, rather than transporting them. Portable emergency suctioning makes this possible.
- Making judicious use of curtains and other measures that may reduce exposure to infectious particles when you have to transport patients within the hospital.
- Being mindful of the surfaces you don’t wash—uniforms, stretchers, and reusable equipment. These are prime spots for infection spread.
Clean Equipment Immediately
After using reusable equipment—such as a suction machine—clean it immediately. Don’t store equipment for later cleaning, as this allows pathogens to spread and can result in costly errors that transfer deadly microbes to patients. It takes a few extra minutes to clean equipment after using it, but doing so can greatly reduce morbidity and mortality.
Keep Your Equipment Organized
Keep your equipment neatly organized and accessible. This might not seem like an important infection prevention strategy, but consider how many items you touch when fumbling for the right catheter or replacement battery.
Organized equipment is less likely to fall out of your bag and become contaminated, and is almost always easier to clean and disinfect. Commit to washing your hands and then reorganizing everything at the end of each shift to minimize cross-contamination and ensure you can always promptly treat patients.
The right suction machine is easy to clean, efficient to use, and gives your patients a better shot at full recovery. Portable emergency suction alleviates the need to move patients or delay care, further protecting the community. For a complete guide to purchasing a portable suction machine, download our free guide, The Ultimate Guide to Purchasing a Portable Emergency Suction Device.