Home > Prevention & Precautionary Steps For Seniors > Infection Control In Skilled Nursing & Assisted Living Facilities

Infection Control In Skilled Nursing & Assisted Living Facilities

Infections lower a person’s quality of life, cause pain and can lead to serious illness in any setting. Infections are an especially serious and costly problem in the healthcare industry. Skilled Nursing, Assisted Living Facilities and all types of other healthcare settings are required to practice methods of preventing and controlling the spread of infection. Government codes state that “each nursing home shall establish and implement appropriate written policies and procedures to assure a safe, sanitary and comfortable environment for residents and to control the development and transmission of infections and diseases. Each nursing home shall establish an infection control program to monitor compliance with infection control policies and procedures, to investigate, control and prevent infections in the home, and to institute appropriate interventions. The home shall designate an appropriate licensed health professional with competency in infection control to serve as the infection control coordinator.”

Infection control policies help hospitals, skilled nursing, assisted living facilities and other places where healthcare is provided. It helps control the spread of infection and germs to patients, residents, staff and visitors. Infections spread very quickly in hospitals and other healthcare facilities for a couple of reasons. Patients in hospitals are ill and have weakened immune systems. The elderly are especially prone to contracting serious infections. Infections cause deaths, longer lengths of stay and a lot of money.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC):

More than 2 million infections start every year in a hospital, nursing home or another healthcare setting.

70,000 people die every year as the result of getting an infection in a hospital, nursing home or another healthcare setting.

Every infection that is caught in a hospital, nursing home or other healthcare setting can cost upwards of $30,000 to treat and contain.

The United States spends more than $45 billion dollars every year for the extra care and treatment that is needed when infections start in a hospital, nursing home or another healthcare setting.

The CDC also states that the leading cause of death among residents in nursing homes is infection. Infection is also the most frequent reason for a person to be moved from the nursing home to a hospital for more intensive care.

1.5 new infections start every year in nursing homes. This number means that every person in a nursing home gets an average of one infection every year. (CDC, 2010)

How are infections contained? Infections can be prevented and stopped when caregivers follow infection control and standard precautions procedures, handle hazardous waste properly, handle sharps properly, take steps to keep themselves healthy and wash and sanitize hands regularly and properly.

Standard infection controls used by healthcare workers. Healthcare workers use standard precautions when they handle and throw out items that may have been exposed to blood or other body fluids. All body fluids have the potential to transport invisible infections so standard precautions are used whenever any substance is handled that may have an infection. Some examples of body fluids are: Blood, feces, wound drainage, secretions from the nose or eyes, saliva or sputum, urine, vomit, breast milk, and fluids taken from lungs, the abdomen or any other body cavity.

Germaphobe by *step-toe on deviantART


Healthcare workers are required to:

Wear gloves whenever they may touch any body fluid, including the emptying of a urine bag, urinal or bedpan.

Gloves are to be removed and thrown away after each use. Most hospitals and nursing homes use red bags to throw away gloves and all other items except sharps such as hypodermic needles.

Gloves are never to be used more than once. They must be thrown out after every use.

Hands should be washed immediately after removing gloves.

Masks, Eye Protection & Face Shields

Healthcare workers are required to:

Use personal protective equipment like a mask, eye protection and face shields if near a patient care activity that may involve a splash or spray of body fluids.

Use a special mask or an Ambu bag when doing CPR or rescue breathing.

Wear a gown when performing a procedure that may soil clothing with body fluids.

Patient Care Equipment and Supplies

Healthcare workers are required:

Carefully handle all dirty patient care equipment so that it does not touch their clothing or another patient.

Use single use patient supplies with one patient only.

Write the patient’s name and room number on all patient care supplies, such as urinals and bedpans.

Environmental Control

Healthcare facilities are required to:

Routinely clean all visibly dirty items such as bedside tables and nightstands.

Make sure that all wheelchairs, beds, rails and walkers are routinely kept clean by the housekeeper or another person at the facility.

Keep personal food and drinks out of patient care areas and only in the staff refrigerator. These items cannot be put in the medication refrigerator or the patient refrigerator.

800Seniors.com is a leading referral system in the Elderly Healthcare industry. We are located on 5400 Atlantis Court, Moorpark, California 93021. 800Seniors.com provides the perfect match between seniors searching for health care provisions such as Home Care, Home Health, Skilled Nursing Los Angeles, Hospice Care, Medical Supplies, as well as a variety of Assisted Living and Care Homes nationwide. Take the confusion and hassle out of the search. For more information call 1-800-768-8221, visit http://800seniors.com or fax us your details at (805)517-1623.

About The Author: Gloria Ha’o Schneider is an expert in senior citizen and baby boomer issues. Her topics revolve around Senior Living and Healthcare to provide the latest information to this demographic as well as their families and loved ones.

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