Patient Safety – a Shared Responsibility

Tuesday, June 14, 2016Casey King

Healthcare professionals have a common goal: to make people healthy again. To obtain this goal, there are many groups within a healthcare facility that need to work together harmoniously. This goes beyond the clinical side of patient care - cleaning staff, patient transport teams, dietary services, IT, etc., also come into the mix. When a healthcare facility hires a healthcare contractor, you become part of that team and must share the responsibility of patient safety.

The turn of the 20th century brought about a new line of thinking in healthcare spaces concerning cross-contamination and simple hand washing practices. Fast forward to today and the landscape of infection prevention is an entire industry in its own right. We have numerous federally sponsored programs to ensure patient safety, including the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), just to name a few. With aging institutions and remodeling of old spaces, infection prevention and control must be the first consideration for any project.

So, where do you start? Luckily there is a matrix that’s been adopted by most healthcare facilities to guide contractors through the remediation, decontamination, and restoration process. The Infection Control Risk Assessment (ICRA) matrix provides a step-by-step manual to determine what measures need to be taken to protect the patient population. The matrix has four levels/types and takes into consideration the facility’s location, room occupancies and types, and addresses the exposure level for high-risk patients. This includes NICU babies and immuno-compromised patients. There is an obvious difference between full-scale demolition and a simple paint job. The more dust production, the more stringent your infection prevention and control measures will be. These are all factors that must be considered.

After putting all the pieces of the matrix together, you can begin to identify the measures that must be taken. The matrix will provide guidance on what to implement, but it your job to research and understand these various preventative practices. Just keep in mind, that if you work in a healthcare facility, no matter your role, you become equally responsible for ensuring patient safety.

About the Author

Casey King
Healthcare Project Supervisor

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