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Thursday, December 15, 2011

"I don't want a lot for Christmas, there's just one thing I need..."

I always liked the Mariah Carey Christmas song titled "All I Want for Christmas". But, Michael Buble does a much softer and more romantic version of the song on his new Christmas album that has sold a TON. My wife bought the CD and has nearly worn it out in the week she has owned it.

But, I'm not here to pan music. I want to develop my own list of "Wants" for this Christmas. Here goes:

  1. I want a non-bleach disinfectant with a C-diff spore-kill claim with a contact time of 5 minutes or less. Really, I don't want a lot for Christmas.
  2. I want a sure-fire disinfectant system for use in the terminal cleaning of discharged patient's room. A system that kills the microorganisms left behind by the best disinfectants, the best employees and the best practices. We all know they are there, lurking on the bottom of the bed rail that is touched by every caregiver who raises or lowers the bed rail. The ESKAPE family of organisms that lurk on the bottom side of the lever that raises and lowers the over-bed table. And, yes, C-diff lurks in the privacy curtain that is opened and closed by every physician, respiratory therapist, family member and nurse that comes to check on the patient. Oh yes, those MDRO's also hide in the velcro in the blood pressure cuff. I want this system to work with minimal disruption to the operation of the Environmental Services or Nursing departments (i.e., no taping off of the ventilation system, in/up/done/out in 10 minutes or less). While I am wishing, I wish it wouldn't break the bank (<$50K per unit).
  3. I want a hospital that realizes that the IPC partner from the Environmental Services Department that cleans the patient's room is only in that room for 15-20 minutes on a daily basis. The other 23 hours 40 minutes out of the day, that clean, safe and disinfected environment has to be maintained by every person who enters the room and touches surfaces like bed rails, faucet handles, toilet flush handles, furniture, door knobs, over-bed table lever that raises and lowers the table, etc. Fully engaged healthcare workers realize the importance of proper hand hygiene. But, the BEST staffers know that clean, sanitized hands or gloves are quickly contaminated by soiled surfaces they touch. Then those soiled hands or gloves spread the contamination to an undeserving patient or a previously cleaned surface. I want a hospital full of hygiene specialists who know their role of preventing the transmission of dangerous organisms by maintaining the sanitary conditions in the patient's room 24/7.
  4. And, finally, I want a ZERO HAI rate. That means that EVERYBODY gets a gift! Our patients recuperate from the illness, accident or surgery that caused their admission to the hospital without fear of contracting a MDRO that could cause a life-long dependence on medical care, or, even worse, cause their death. I have heard too many heart-wrenching stories about loved ones lost to a system that was too loose with their infection prevention practices. Our hospital admits over 40,000 patients each year. I can't imagine us putting up a scrolling marquee out on the interstate bragging that only 800 patients left the hospital with something they didn't expect, a life-altering or terminal condition called a HAI. I want to see them live healthy, happy and purposeful lives for many years to come. Families win by having their loved one at Grandma's house enjoying their Christmas season of love and cheer. And, the hospital wins by getting the maximum reimbursement by preventing the "must nevers".
  5. Oh I don't want a lot for Christmas;
    This is all I'm asking for;
    I just want to see my baby
    Standing right outside my door.
    Oh I just want you for my own.
    More than you could ever know;
    Make my wish come true,
    Baby all I want for Christmas is...You (Happy, Healthy You)

Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy, Prosperous 2012!


J. Darrel Hicks, BA, REH, CHESP

Author of “Infection Prevention for Dummies”

Go to: www.darrelhicks.com to order your FREE copy of “Infection Prevention for Dummies” (just pay S&H) or to see other blogs and articles.


Darrel Hicks is the author of Wiley Publishing's "Infection Control For Dummies", and is nationally recognized as one of the top experts in infection control. Darrel is also the immediate Past President of the IEHA and is an active member in ASHES where he holds the designation of CHESP. Darrel started his career in the management of housekeeping services in 1981. He has worked in hospitals ranging in size from 20-500 beds, and knows what it takes to plan, set goals and provide guidance and consultation to the management team and department(s) staff. He has managed as many as 13 departments and 170 F.T.E.’s at one time in a 3-hospital system. In that healthcare system Darrel had to pioneer and discover ways to save money by cross training staff, job sharing, controlling overtime and putting a system of controls in place.

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