New technology reduces infection risk

Nurse Annette Fly uses David Graham’s dedicated monitor to check his vital signs.  - Karen McClimon photo
Nurse Annette Fly uses David Graham’s dedicated monitor to check his vital signs.
— image credit: Karen McClimon photo

Whidbey General Hospital is working to prevent hospital-acquired infections with the use of new technology.

A study of patients with MRSA (Methicillin Resistant Staph Aureus) revealed that 12 percent of the patients obtained their hospital-acquired infection from contaminated surfaces, clothing or equipment in their patient room.

The Coupeville hospital has historically adhered to strict infection control guidelines for cleaning surfaces and equipment, but Whidbey General has also implemented an innovative technological solution to target the most commonly shared piece of equipment in patient rooms, the vital-sign monitor.

With the help of the Whidbey General Hospital Foundation, the hospital purchased 32 state-of-the-art vital sign monitors, one for the head of every patient bed in the hospital’s medical-surgical inpatient unit. “Having dedicated equipment for our patients helps protect our patients from infection,” said unit charge nurse Ellie Murphy.

Patients have their own monitors for the duration of their stays, which eliminates a potential source of infection transmission.

“We are successfully lowering infection rates and increasing patient safety as a result of this investment in technology,” said John Bitting, WGH Acting Chief Nurse Executive.

“The added benefit of the project is we are not moving monitors between patients and rooms so we are able to reallocate nursing staff time back to direct patient care instead of disinfecting equipment,” he added. “Our patients are benefiting at every level.”

The new vital-sign monitors are now disinfected at patient discharge when the entire patient room is cleaned by specially trained hospital personnel following the hospital’s strict infection control guidelines.

As a result of a grant secured by the foundation, WGH’s infection preventionist Shannon McDonnell reports that a high-tech monitoring device was purchased.

“The luminometer allows the infection control and environmental services staff to work as a team to maintain an even safer environment for our patients,” McDonnell said.

The Whidbey General Hospital Foundation supports Whidbey General Hospital and community health endeavors through public awareness and the development and management of charitable resources.

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