Ask, speak up, and be proactive: Empowering patient infection control to prevent health care-acquired infections

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Journal Article
American Journal of Infection Control, 2015, 43 (5), pp. 447 - 453
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© 2015 Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology, Inc. All rights reserved. Background Over the last decade, there has been a slow shift toward the more active engagement of patients and families in preventing health care-associated infections (HCAIs). This pilot study aimed to examine the receptiveness of hospital patients toward a new empowerment tool aimed at increasing awareness and engagement of patients in preventing HCAI. Methods Patients from the surgical department were recruited and randomized into 2 groups: active and control. Patients in the active arm were given an empowerment tool, whereas control patients continued with normal practices. Pre- and postsurveys were administered. Results At the baseline survey, just over half of the participants were highly willing to assist with infection control strategies. Participants were significantly more likely to be willing to ask a doctor or nurse a factual question then a challenging question. After discharge, 23 of the 60 patients reported discussing a health concern with a staff member; however, only 3 participants asked a staff member to wash their hands. Conclusion Our results suggest that patients would like to be more informed about HCAIs and are willing to engage with staff members to assist with the prevention of infections while in the hospital setting. Further work is going to need to be undertaken to ascertain the best strategies to promote engagement and participation in infection control activities.
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