You’re getting ready for a major renovation at your healthcare facility and you’ve decided on an infection control plan for the work site. The construction site and critical barriers won’t be set up until next week, but you’ve already started removing furniture and fixtures to get the process started. Then, panic strikes when someone removes a cabinet to reveal a mold-ridden wall. So much for that infection control plan.
With the right planning, an Infection Control Risk Assessment (ICRA) and plan can prevent the transmission of harmful microbial organisms in your healthcare facility during a construction or renovation project. However, many people forget that limiting contamination during demolition is perhaps even more crucial in protecting patient health than precautions taken during construction. Unfortunately, when you’re getting ready for a project it’s easy to dive right into demolition and forget that even simple modifications of a work area in the preparatory stages can expose harmful microorganisms.
Before you start your next project make sure you remember these two key steps so you don’t end up with an infection control emergency like the one above:
First, make sure you set up critical barriers around the work site before you begin any sort of preparation work, including the removal of furniture, fixtures, wallpaper, or installations. Just because you’re not knocking down drywall doesn’t mean that harmful microorganisms aren’t hiding in the work area. The last thing you want is exposed microbial growth in an uncontained area of a hospital.
Second, take time to identify common sites for microbial growth within the work site before you begin any preparatory work. Harmful bacteria will make themselves at home just about anywhere, but by evaluating the work area, you can identify factors that might contribute to microbial growth before you tear into something unpleasant. Furthermore, it is important to understand how harmful microorganisms travel throughout the healthcare environment (i.e. air ducts, plumbing systems) so you can address these risks before any microbial growth is exposed.
- According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 2 million people in the United States acquire hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) each year. These HAIs correspond to 110,000 deaths each year-5,000 of which are directly linked to construction activities.
- It is essential that infection prevention measures be taken because healthcare facilities and contractors are increasingly being held liable for HAIs and associated deaths.
- The 2014 FGI Guidelines for Design and Construction of Hospitals and Outpatient Facilities put a newfound emphasis on preventative measures in healthcare design and construction.