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Keep up-to-date with the latest news from Diamond Pharmacy Services and the various blog entries from our experienced pharmacists.

Questions for Nursing Home Staff: Part 1

By Deborah Milito, Pharm D., BCGP: July 13, 2017
In our last post, we reviewed the CDC's list of the Top 10 Infection Prevention Questions to Ask a Nursing Home's Leaders. In this post, we'll look more closely at a few of those questions. Below, we examine why some of these questions are so important. Again, this content is from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and more information can be found on their website.

1. What infections commonly occur among residents in this facility?
Why is this question important? Nursing home residents can have a higher chance of getting an infection due to frailty from getting older, needing more help from caregivers who may not have clean hands, and open wounds or medical devices like IV tubes going into their body that break the skin providing a path for germs to enter the body. A nursing home should be tracking the common infections in its residents so they can be sure that actions are taken (i.e., infection prevention practices) to reduce the spread of germs to residents.

2. When was the last outbreak (i.e., infection spreading among residents) in this facility?
Additional questions to ask: What was the cause (e.g., flu, norovirus, other)? Did the facility request assistance from local public health authorities or any other partners?
Why are these questions important? Shared living spaces and lots of visitors can make it easier for a contagious germ (like flu or diarrhea from norovirus) to spread quickly through a nursing home. While many facilities experience outbreaks, early detection and quickly alerting public health authorities can help limit the spread of the infection to more residents, staff and visitors.

3. How does the facility communicate with residents, family and visitors when an outbreak occurs?
Why is this question important? Outbreaks of infections do occur in nursing homes. It is important the facility staff have a process for notifying residents, family members and visitors so everyone can take steps to decrease the chance of spreading the infection of getting ill. Sometimes a facility might have to restrict visitation or stop new admissions temporarily in order to stop an outbreak. In those situations, it's very important that everyone is informed about what is happening.

In our next post we'll dig deeper into questions 4-6 on the CDC's list.

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Top Infection Prevention Questions to Ask Your Nursing Home Staff

By Deborah Milito, Pharm D., BCGP: July 5, 2017
Compiled from the Centers from Disease Control and Prevention National Center, below are 10 questions you should ask your nursing home team to ensure a stringent infection procedure is in place.
  1. What infections commonly occur among residents in this facility?
  2. When was the last outbreak (i.e., infection spreading among residents) in this facility?
  3. How does the facility communicate with residents, family and visitors when an outbreak occurs?
  4. Is the flu vaccine mandatory for all staff working in this nursing home?
  5. If a staff member is sick, is he/she allowed to stay at home (or go home from work) without losing pay or time off?
  6. How are facility staff trained to respond to questions about hand hygiene from residents and family?
  7. Are residents with new diarrhea given separate toilet facilities until the cause of their diarrhea is determined and/or the diarrhea is resolved?
  8. How is shared equipment (e.g., objects in the therapy area or common room) managed to prevent the spread of germs?
  9. Does the facility have private rooms for residents who develop signs or symptoms of a potentially contagious infection like new cough and fever or new vomiting and abdominal pain?
  10. Does the facility provide educational materials for residents and families on the following topics?
  • Hand hygiene
  • Use of gowns/gloves and other equipment to prevent the spread of germs
  • Antibiotic use policies/practices in this facility
In future posts, we'll look more closely at these questions and why they are so important in evaluating a facility's infection prevention and control program.
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