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Training and empowerment are the keys to providing quality care

By Thom Wellington
From the August 2017 issue of DOTmed HealthCare Business News magazine

Health care associated infections (HAIs) are drawing increasing attention from patients, insurers, government and regulatory agencies.

Everyone must understand their role in improving outcomes. Education is essential for infection control since most HAIs are considered preventable. You would not get on an airplane knowing the pilot had no training. It’s not just pilots who require continual training. Most of us who are licensed to perform certain tasks are required to take annual training to maintain licenses. Training plays a key role in keeping patients safe and reducing preventables.

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A breach in infection control practices facilitates transmission of infection from patients to health care workers, fellow patients, the surrounding environment and others. It is important for all health care workers to adhere to infection control guidelines. It is also imperative for health care administrators to ensure the infection control program is implemented. Training and education are necessary to assure all health care workers are equipped with the necessary knowledge.

While in hospitals, I often ask technicians how they were trained to perform their required tasks. Unfortunately, most respond that either co-workers or the person leaving the position provided the training. Standardized training on specific equipment or cleaning techniques is scattered, and retraining is often never provided. This educational weakness has led to serious injury and death for patients. Almost monthly we see a case of multiple infections or deaths created by an improper practice, something that could have been prevented with continual training and education.

Captain D. Michael Abrashoff’s book, “It’s Your Ship,” is a perfect read for hospital administrators who truly want to change course and improve outcomes. When Abrashoff took the helm of the USS Benfold, it was loaded with the most advanced technology, but a crew that did not fully understand the mission, nor were they as productive as other Navy crews. Actually, it was the worst ship in the Navy. Instead of scrutinizing the crew with the presumption they would screw up, Abrashoff took a totally different approach. While analyzing every process on the ship he asked, “is there a better way to do what you do?” The approach paid off when he actually took their advice and changed a practice. Soon, more suggestions came in, and new approaches and protocols were established. The crew felt like they were part of the management process and were eager to learn more skills.

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