Adhering to compliance rules and regulations is one of the fundamental ways that hospice agencies can ensure they are providing optimal patient care in safe environments. As so, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Services (CDC) has standards of practice in place that healthcare workers are expected to follow. These include maintaining infection control and identifying anybody who may be at risk for COVID-19 or other infectious diseases. Here, we will review a few hospice recommendations regarding what healthcare professionals can do to stay in compliance with infection control guidelines.
Regularly Wash Your Hands
According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), a healthcare worker should maintain hand hygiene during all points of patient care, even before and after contact with the patient. These include washing hands before performing an injection or providing wound care, as well as when there is contact with any fluids or potentially contaminated surfaces in the area.1
Staff members are expected to either wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or to use approved alcohol-based products. Maintaining health hygiene is a simple and easy way to cut down the transmission of any respiratory infections and other diseases. As a matter of fact, the CDC estimates that washing hands with soap and water can reduce diarrheal disease-related deaths by up to 50 percent.2
Maintain the Appropriate Use of Equipment and Supplies
Healthcare workers are expected to use Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), which can minimize exposure to workplace injuries and illnesses and also create barriers against infectious items for additional protection. Examples of PPE may include face masks, safety glasses, gowns, gloves, and more. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) states that staff members should receive PPE training and information on the following:
- When it’s necessary to use PPE
- What kind is necessary
- How to put it on, adjust and take off
- How to maintain proper care and dispose of the equipment
- The limitations of the equipment
Additionally, OSHA also recommends the implementation of a PPE program in healthcare environments to maintain standard protocols.3 Ensuring the proper usage of PPE in hospice settings is key to minimizing any transmission of illnesses and diseases between the healthcare worker and the patient. Not only does it minimize potential exposures, but it also gives further peace of mind to those receiving care as well as those providing it.
Disinfect and Clean Surrounding Environment
Hospice team members visiting a home must “maintain clean equipment and supplies during the home visit, during transport of reusable patient care items in a carrying case in the staff vehicle, and for use in multiple patients’ homes.” 4 Disinfecting supplies such as blood pressure cuffs and blood glucose meters, while also following through with clean bedding techniques, is vital to maintaining infection control across the board.
As part of routine cleaning, the CDC also recommends making sure that laundry and food services utensils are managed properly.5 Steps for cleaning and disinfecting any equipment that is used in a patient’s care should be followed according to the manufacturer’s guidelines and instructions.
During these times and beyond, it’s even more essential that infection control guidelines are firmly in place and reviewed on a constant basis by hospice professionals.
Best Practices to Eliminate Compliance Gaps in Hospices
Stay on track of compliance measures and goals for optimal patient care.
1 & 4 Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, “Home Health Agency Interpretive Guidelines,” August 31, 2018.
2 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Hygiene Fast Facts,” July 26, 2016.
3 Occupational Safety and Health Administration, “Personal Protective Equipment,” 2021.
5 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Interim Infection Prevention and Control Recommendations for Healthcare Personnel During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Pandemic,” February 23, 2021.