Contact Precaution Policies

Posted 19 August 2015 12:00 AM by Evan Bane

A recent article in Health Facilities Management (HFM) magazine points to a new report stating that contact precautions should be tailored for visitors of patients with infectious diseases.  Part of the rational for the new recommendations is cost-savings.

Somewhat surprisingly, the report in Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology states that visitors to patients with MRSA and VRE do not need to wear gowns and gloves.  The authors base that statement on the fact that visitors generally do not go to more than one patient room, unlike clinical staff.

The guidelines do, however, still advocate for hand hygiene for visitors of patients with infectious diseases to reduce the potential for the spread of dangerous bacteria.

Now, something we’ve been saying all along is that the lion’s share of hand washing badgering is directed at hospital staff, while visitors go unmonitored – unwashed and unwatched, so to speak.  And the HFM article bears this out:

“ … most facilities do not monitor visitor [hand-hygiene] compliance, according to a survey of nearly 300 Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA) members, which was part of the report.


The survey found that 80 percent of the North American respondents do not monitor visitor compliance with isolation precautions and 81 percent do not monitor hand-hygiene compliance.”


It’s all those unwashed hands touching things like privacy curtains, countertops, door handles … and the list goes on and on … that should keep hospital infection control and environmental services staff up at night.


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