Why you need to update your hospital’s ventilation system
Friday, January 10, 2020
As a hospital administrator, proper infection control is an incredibly important task. Nosocomial infections — the viral and bacterial illnesses that your patients may contract while at the hospital after being admitted for another reason — are a constant and vexing concern at most facilities.
Yet, taking a fresh overview of your ventilation system, making easy and effective changes to that system, and sharpening your staff's germ control awareness can pay big dividends. This piece will incorporate the latest research to inform you of the latest technology and strategies.
Consider a system change if you're looking to update.
According to a research team at the University of Cordoba, 90% of hospitals use a mixed ventilation system. A mixed ventilation system pushes new air into a patient’s room, where it migrates to the upper portion near the ceiling. The problem with this, of course, is that your patient’s bed is much lower, so he or she is trapped in germy air.
One way to solve this problem: look into switching to a displacement ventilation system. In a displacement system, air is sent into the room at low speeds where the patient actually is and the germy air rises so it can then go out the room's vents.
Talk to your engineering staff about possible options in this regard, then crunch the numbers to see if a displacement option could work for your budget.
Make sure your patients' rooms get frequent air refreshing.
CDC guidelines require patient room air to be refreshed through ventilation regularly. Have your system analyzed for lags and make sure the air is automatically changing as frequently as can be programmed — more than the minimum requirement, optimally.
Use wing sealing as an easy solution to control outbreaks.
A study published in the American Journal of Infection Control found that simply sealing off a wing and adjusting your existing vent system can dramatically cut the spread of airborne germs if a large number of patients get the same infection.
Reducing the supply of air in a unit by 60% creates a "negative pressure ward" in which air doesn't escape into the hospital and your staff and other patients aren't also infected. Analyzing the logistics of this idea with your engineers and gaining physician input could be a major boon to your facility.
Ensure your filter systems are effective.
Researchers at Rice University have been creating a new graphene filter that will swiftly capture fungi, spores, endotoxins, bacteria and more infectious agents. Your hospital's two federally required filter beds should be constantly monitored and scrupulously maintained to catch and contain germs as effectively as possible. Never skimp on expense here.
Do a full sterilization inventory.
You may think your staff is doing a great job at cleaning surfaces at your facility, but aerosol droplets are a constant concern and inadequate sterilization even at small levels can create big problems.
Walk your wards for frequent quality control observation; hold monthly sterilization seminars to update and reeducate; and make sterilization training a major point for new employees. Be proactive and never take your eye off the ball when it comes to germ control.
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