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Operational Visibility: Second Line of Defense Against Infection

Patient sitting aloneNow more than ever, U.S hospitals need a second line of defense against the spread of infection.

Before Ebola became a household word in the U.S., we knew the spread of Hospital Acquired Infections (HAIs) was a major problem. Progress has been made.


Deaths from HAIs have dropped 25 percent from 2002 to 2011, from 100,000 per year to 75,000.   However, there is considerable room for improvement, especially given the lethality of the Ebola virus.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than half of the estimated 772,000 HAI cases recorded in 2011 occurred outside of the intensive care unit. That suggests that containing the spread of infection is as significant a problem as discovering the source of infection.

Hospital infection has been on ongoing problem, despite efforts to address central line contamination and the rate of hand-washing compliance by hospital personnel.

Until recently, it was difficult and time-consuming to monitor proper protocols and processes and track the care pathways of highly infectious patients.  But now, healthcare IT brings real-time operational visibility to patient safety and care delivery.

TeleTracking’s real-time operational platform is a prime example of that technology.  We provide a safety backstop through the combination of infection-tracking and instant communications that bridge the departmental silos and protocol breakdowns that contribute to inadvertent infection exposure.

TeleTracking has the ability to:

  • capture patient attributes and potential isolations and instantly notify receiving care teams that an isolation risk patient is on their way.
  • make the patient’s isolation status visible for all rounding caregivers, EVS and transport employees via page, mobile and desktop computer alerts that indicate the specific infection type.
  • track patients, staff and equipment (via RTLS  technology) that may have been exposed to isolation patients and can immediately generate reports to detail that information.
  • monitor hand-washing compliance in real-time and can identify staff, times, locations, etc.
  • track all staff/patient, physician/patient and patient/patient and human/equipment interactions to enhance infection-tracking capabilities.

To date, only one study has been done to assess contamination in the patient care environment during an Ebola outbreak.  Of 35 samples collected, the two with patient blood were the only samples where the virus was detected.  Thus far, there is no evidence of Ebola virus transmission from bed rails, door knobs, laundry, etc.  However, because of high levels in patient blood, extreme caution is still recommended to reduce the potential risk posed by contaminated surfaces in the patient care environment.  (Bausch DG et al. Assessment of the Risk of Ebola Virus Transmission from Bodily Fluids and Fomites. J Infect Dis 2007; 196:S142–7)

What this means for housekeepers and transporters, the most widely traveled employees in the hospital, is that they must be adequately protected, lest they become unsuspecting carriers of potentially fatal diseases.

TeleTracking automatically alerts these employees to a room’s isolation status when they are first assigned a cleaning or transfer task, and it tracks the equipment that they use and whether or not it was cleaned appropriately.

While there has been wide discussion of whether Electronic Health Records can play a role in addressing the Ebola problem in the U.S., little is being said about the kind of healthcare IT that can and already has helped actively fight the spread of potentially lethal diseases in hospitals here and overseas.

We’re about to change that!

If you would like to know more about TeleTracking’s infection fighting capabilities, download our white paper – Overlooked and Under-protected.

Categories: Author: Dennis Morabito, Hand Hygiene, Hospital Infection Control