Calm, Cool, Collected
Proper infection control procedures—hand hygiene, injection safety, appropriate cleanup, and careful waste handling—are a third line of defense in preventing the spread of infectious disease, Tumpey says.
Dr. Lenchus says that, particularly in light of diseases like Ebola, hospitalists should present concerned patients with valid information in a “calm, cool, and collected manner” that “helps allay the fear, misconception, and hysteria from generalizations, emotional responses, and anecdotal hearsay.”
These conversations present hospitalists with an opportunity to highlight the protocols, procedures, and patient safety programs in place at their institutions. They also provide a forum to discuss common cold and influenza viruses, which spread more easily than Ebola.
Of course, in the face of new rules for admissions, packed EDs, mounting metrics, and sometimes nonintuitive electronic health records, staying abreast of the latest information and catching every patient with symptoms that may or may not be related to an infectious disease may be easier said than done.
The CDC is redoubling its outreach efforts, Tumpey says, and will offer webinars and trainings for health providers.
“Our hope is that increased awareness can improve triage, early recognition, and appropriate infection control and could help for other things like MRSA, the endemic threats we face every day in U.S. healthcare facilities, even emerging diseases like MERS and carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae,” says Tumpey. “Awareness of proper infection control could help with many disease threats.”
Kelly April Tyrrell is a freelance writer in Madison, Wis.