Preventing Nosocomial Outbreaks of the Novel Coronavirus

By Madison Pittman

Since December 2019, major health organizations like the World Health Organization (WHO) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have been closely monitoring an outbreak of a respiratory illness caused by a novel coronavirus.

The novel coronavirus 2019 (2019-nCoV), officially named “COVID-19,” has become the buzz of every news source, instilling fear and panic across the world as transmissions continue to grow. To date, the virus has infected over a million people, and just a little over 20% have recovered. While in many ways, the virus mimics the flu (with a lower fatality rate), the virus is a serious concern because very little is known about COVID-19.

An alarming recent study revealed that 41% of the first 138 patients diagnosed at a hospital in Wuhan, China, were presumed to be infected in the hospital. 4.3% of these patients died. To clarify, almost half of the patients diagnosed with COVID-19 in this hospital, received it within the hospital. This means that COVID-19 can be passed through nosocomial transmissions. If this seems familiar, that’s because SARS and MERS, other coronavirus types, also ultimately spread through hospitals during their outbreaks.

While sometimes infections are spread in hospitals through a “super-spreader event,” where one patient transmits the infection to several others, that doesn’t seem to be the case with the novel coronavirus. In the hospital in Wuhan, China, patients and healthcare workers got infected in many different areas of the hospital.

So what does this mean for hospitals in the United States? Now that we know that COVID-19 is transmitted through contact in hospitals, facilities need to arm themselves with the proper methods to prevent outbreaks.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists hand washing as one of the most important ways to prevent the spread of the virus. This protects both the patient and the provider. Unfortunately, when hospitals get busy (like when an outbreak occurs), hand hygiene tends to fall to the wayside. Simply put, the busier a clinician is, the more difficult it is for them to maintain a high hand hygiene performance rate.

With the Clean Hands – Safe Hands system, providers can be gently reminded in the moment with a Natural Language Voice Reminder™ if they forget. Unit leaders can use real-time analytics to keep an eye on the unit and be alerted of potential problem areas.

There’s are a lot of uncertainties surrounding COVID-19. All we know for now is that if it makes its way into your hospital, you need to be prepared to stop future transmissions. Contact Clean Hands – Safe Hands to learn more about how an electronic system can help you prevent infections.


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