Managing Infection Risk in Long Term Care

Research Series: Article 7
June 16, 2020

Managing Infection Risk in Long Term Care

by Anthony Pinto

Efforts to strengthen infection-control practices in nursing homes have brought into focus the number of deficiencies identified at the 15,000+ nursing homes nationwide.  Three-quarters were cited at least once for infection-related infractions since 2016, with 40% repeat offenders.  Nursing homes are now dealing with increased risk as the spread of Covid-19 continues to impact the most vulnerable in our society.   With no immediate end in sight and the promise for therapeutics and vaccines still merely a hope, continued unsafe conditions are leading to the spread of skin diseases, UTIs, the flu and pneumonia.  According to CMS data, more than two-thirds of states have a history of infection-control deficiencies, leaving the already at-risk elderly population at heightened risk. 

While there may have been a significant emphasis toward enhanced protocols prior to the outbreak of the pandemic, Industry leaders believe that even the strongest infection-control measures could not have prepared nursing homes for the onslaught of the virus and the threat it posed to older adults with multiple underlying health conditions.  CMS inspections in late March found that one in three nursing homes did not follow proper hand-washing guidelines and one in four failed to demonstrate the proper use of personal protective equipment.

On June 1st, CMS announced new federal regulations that increased penalties of up to $20,000 for infection control violations in Nursing Homes. Citing the loss of 26,000 lives to Covid-19 through the middle of May, CMS focused on nursing homes with patterns of infection control deficiencies,  implementing new enforcement of lower-level infection control issues with the goal of increasing  compliance, while allowing those with no previous history of citations for infection control to submit a directed plan of correction if the violation is not widespread.  

Minimizing risk of infection is critical to protect healthcare providers and patients, especially critical when working with wound patients in long term care settings.  A need for new approaches, ongoing training, and protocols that help enforce best practice standards have led healthcare leaders to implement effective prevention and control measures to meet this challenge, along with the ever-changing regulatory environment. Some measures related specifically to wound care include:

  • Implementation of evidence-based policies & procedures, including facility audits
  • Competency based programs for training all personnel who provide wound care
  • Adherence to wound care policies and procedures, including:
    • Proper disposal of wound care materials
    • Hand hygiene before starting, and while performing wound care for each resident
    • Wearing of gloves during all stages of wound care and before caring for another resident.
    • High level disinfection of each piece of equipment after use on the same resident
    • Record-keeping of all types of skin & wound infections for each wound care patient
  • Use of remote monitoring practices for patients who have moved out of nursing homes

eKare has developed a 100% non-invasive, non-contact approach to wound management, where accurate wound measurement and assessment data is critical to informing treatment protocols & procedures that ultimately drive patient outcomes.  eKare’s inSight technology enables wound imaging and 3D measurements from a mobile device without the need to place a reference marker on the skin. While typical systems require the use of a reference marker to aid with measurement results, applying an adhesive marker may increase the risk of infection, as well as potential skin-tearing and other complications.  In addition, eKare telehealth supports remote patient monitoring efforts, particularly while in-person engagement is limited during the pandemic, as well as ongoing care and new approaches that enable providers to connect with patients after they have left the nursing home.  

To learn more about how eKare can help your organization minimize risk while helping you care for your wound patients, visit our website at https://ekare.ai or contact us directly at sales@ekareinc.com to schedule a demo of the eKare program. 

Anthony Pinto is a customer success leader focused on the customer journey – from the sales process through implementation and post install success. Prior to joining eKare in 2017, Anthony spent 9 years with SigmaCare (now MatrixCare), creating and building their customer success organization that focused on both retention and growth in the EHR space. Anthony currently serves as Vice President of Business Development at eKare, Inc.

Resources:

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/infectioncontrol/guidelines/disinfection/index.html
  2. https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/04/17/nursing-home-coronavirus-deaths/
  3. https://skillednursingnews.com/2020/06/cms-to-increase-penalties-for-infection-control-violations-in-nursing-homes-reports-26000-covid-19-deaths/
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