TLRMC talks infection control, prevention

Photo courtesy of TLRMC TLRMC Director of Infection Prevention Deborah Campbell, left, and TLRMC Director of Surgery Janice Elder discuss sterilization procedures at the local hospital.

Twin Lakes Regional Medical Center officials say that, recently, incorrect information about infections related to the hospital’s scopes has spread on social media, and the staff would like to reassure the public about the level of care it provides.

Since late last year, a series of patient deaths as a result of “superbug” infections acquired from contaminated equipment used for a specialized procedure called ERCP have made national news.

The flexible instrument, called a duodenoscope, is well known by manufacturers, federal regulatory agencies, and hospitals to be “nearly impossible to fully clean of antibiotic-resistant bacteria,” according to a Twin Lakes Regional Medical Center (TLRMC) press release.

In fact, investigators determined at least one of the hospitals involved in the patient deaths, UCLA’s Ronald Reagan Medical Center in Los Angeles, had followed national sterilization guidelines and standards called for by the instrument’s manufacturer.

Recently, a number of local individuals have taken to social media wondering about the safety of the scopes used at TLRMC.

TLRMC Director of Planning and Marketing Bill Oldham said that incorrect information has circulated about infections related to the hospital’s scopes.

“The first thing people need to know is that TLRMC does not use the type of scopes associated with this specific outbreak of deadly superbug infections,” said TLRMC Director of Surgery Janice Elder, MSN, RN, CNOR.

Additionally, the procedure that would use this type of scope (ERCP) is not performed at TLRMC, according to the hospital press release.

“Upper and lower GI tract procedures are done with equipment called gastroscopes and colonoscopes, which are easier to fully clean while still providing top quality results,” said Elder, who explained that hospital staff takes infection prevention very seriously.

“TLRMC has never had an infection resulting from our scopes as far as I know in the 24 years I have been here,” she said, noting that the staff goes beyond the set guidelines of “high level disinfection” of endoscopes.

“We have been very proactive in our approach to patient safety, and go above and beyond what is recommended by sterilizing our scopes, instead of high level disinfection,” Elder said.

TLRMC began sterilizing its scopes in 1994, according to Elder.

TLRMC Director of Infection Prevention Deborah R. Campbell, MSN, RN-BC, CPHQ, joined the hospital in 2014. She said her job is to educate hospital staff on ways to prevent infections from occurring and what to do if they happen.

Campbell works closely with physicians and surgeons, nursing leaders and their staffs, environmental services, lab, and others.

“We want to identify potential problems and improve our processes before an infection is spread,” Campbell said.

In the specific issue of the scopes used in outpatient procedures, both Campbell and Elder say that TLRMC uses “gold standards” in sterilization.

Campbell works with employees in all departments in the hospital, educating and monitoring to be sure everyone is doing his or her part to prevent the spread of germs and infections.

“We want to make sure our patients, visitors, and staff are as safe as possible,” said Campbell. “We are continuously reviewing our procedures and looking for ways to do an even better job than we already do. I like to brag on our staff because, from the top down, they understand how important proper infection control is.”

Note: Some information came from an article published in the March, 2015 issue of Outpatient Surgery Magazine.

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