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Avoiding Healthcare-Associated Infections & Health Issues

By June 27, 2024No Comments

Healthcare-associated infections, which are also referred to as HAIs or nosocomial infections, are increasingly common in healthcare facilities. Luckily, there are ways to prevent these infections, and protect your staff and patients from danger.

In this article, we will discuss the definition of HAI and provide examples of common diseases patients and medical staff can contract in healthcare settings. Not only this, we’ll also provide tips to help you prevent nosocomial infection spread in your facility.


What Are Healthcare-Associated Infections (HAI)?

Let’s start by answering the question “What are healthcare-associated infections?”

In a nutshell, HAIs are infections that you acquire in a healthcare facility or medical center. These often occur after a medical procedure or intervention, and they can range from mild to potentially fatal. And, while the vast majority of nosocomial infections are prevented, it’s important to implement safety protocols for all scenarios.

HAIs have to follow certain patterns to be considered as such, including:

  • Symptoms manifested 48 hours after arrival or admission to hospital
  • Symptoms manifested 72 hours after medical discharge
  • Symptoms manifested 30 days after a surgical procedure

As with other infections, HAIs can develop from bacteria, viruses, and fungi, though these usually attack patients with a compromised immune system.


How to Protect Patients and Medical Staff Against HAI

Next, let’s go over some steps that can help you maintain an infection-free environment for patients and medical professionals.

Before delving any further, it’s essential to take precautions in your medical center even if you only specialize in radiologic procedures.

The reason for this is that radiology plays a huge part in diagnosing different conditions. Because of this, your radiographic specialists are constantly exposed to patients with different conditions, thus elevating the chances of an infection.

Now, if you’re wondering which of the following steps may help to prevent healthcare-associated infections, the answer is all of them. So, we encourage you to adopt as many as you can.


1. Establish Safety as a Culture

The first and most important part of stopping and preventing HAIs is to create awareness and establish safety as a culture.

Unlike radiation safety which is prominent in most radiographic facilities, best practices surrounding HAIs may not be widespread.

As a facility manager, it’s your responsibility to provide the appropriate training and ensure that all of your team members form a part of your safety programs.

A great way to do this is to establish safety as a culture. And if your facility already observes a similar practice, add HAI safety to your priorities.


2. Set Clear Guidelines

Creating awareness is a great first step, but your team should also have a protocol in place to know how to act in order to prevent infections and handle them if any cases arise.

The two most important elements here are to act swiftly and keep your patient or practitioner reassured of their safety.

Being in a medical facility is an advantage in this scenario, but your medical team needs to have an action plan that includes the application of antibiotics, antivirals, or antifungals after the infection is identified.


3. Create Infection Protocols

As part of your guidelines, you should have protocols in place for worst-case scenarios. That is, if any patient or practitioner has a confirmed HAI that was either acquired or may be spreading in your medical facility.

This protocol will vary based on the size, specialty, and capacity of your facility. For instance, if you have a small diagnostic center that only focuses on imaging, it may be possible to shut it down temporarily until you have everything under control.

Larger facilities that can’t be closed to interruption may need to establish containment policies and protocols to avoid widespread infection.


4. Acquire Robust Personal Protective Equipment

Physicians and technicians alike should be furnished with high-quality personal protective equipment (PPE) designed to keep them safe.

The right PPE varies based on each activity performed by different healthcare professionals. For instance, in some areas wearing a mask and gloves is enough to provide basic protection.

Some situations, like facilities with radiation-based imaging, require specialized equipment.

Bacteriological testing has proven that the velcro commonly found in protective X-ray garments can harbor germs and bacteria. Not only this, but the sharing of these protective items also increases the chance of cross contamination across your entire team.

This is the reason why Barrier Technologies has developed MagnaGuard™ which is an innovative magnetic closure system available in our thyroid shields and aprons. PPE that has MagnaGuard™ can be sterilized using clinical-grade disinfectants, which eliminates the presence of HAI-causing bacteria.


5. Maintain Great Environmental Hygiene

This may seem obvious, but it’s essential to maintain great environmental hygiene in testing rooms, treatment facilities, and throughout the entire healthcare center.

In addition to a strict and verifiable disinfection protocol, you also need to acquire medical equipment and accessories that contribute to a clean environment.

For instance, protective gear and similar materials that have velcro closing systems can harbor both contaminants and microorganisms that produce infections later on.

Taking steps like ordering lead aprons and other accessories that have innovative magnetic closing systems that can be easily wiped clean can help prevent infections throughout your facility.


6. Screen Patients Regularly

Healthcare-associated infections are spread by direct and indirect contact, so patients who are exposed to the same devices may be exposed to each other’s conditions.

Because of this, it’s essential to screen patients regularly. The process itself is not complicated, but it does require your team to work in unison and keep an eye out for things like HAI symptoms and patterns that reveal infections in their early stages.


7. Monitor Your Patients and Medical Staff

One of the great methods to detect HAIs in their early stages is to establish monitoring systems for both patients and medical staff.

Keep in mind that these monitoring systems have to be applied both internally as well as linked to the national surveillance systems provided by public healthcare authorities.

That said, there are many capacity, infrastructure, privacy, and data management challenges in this area. So, you need to analyze your facility with your management team and determine what hurdles need to be cleared.


8. Remind Everyone About Hygiene Best Practices

Lastly, it’s important to remind your team constantly about safety and hygiene best practices. It may seem cliche, but putting up informative content like posters with hygiene steps can help keep your team accountable even when dealing privately with patients.


Common Healthcare-Associated Infections

Now that we’ve discussed tips on how to prevent healthcare-associated infections, let’s take a look at common HAIs that may affect your patients and medical staff.

  • Ventilator-Associated Pneumonia (VAP)
  • Surgical Site Infection (SSI)
  • Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA)
  • Central Line-Associated Bloodstream Infection (CLABSI)
  • Catheter-Associated Urinary Tract Infection (CAUTI)



Establishing the right protocols and monitoring everyone who is exposed to your radiographic diagnostic equipment can help you reduce HAIs and keep your facility running smoothly.

Are you looking to improve safety and reduce the potential for nosocomial infections through specialized PPE?

Get in touch with Barrier Technologies today and we’ll help ensure your practitioners and patients have the highest levels of protection.

How does this relate to Radiation protection & our products?