Aug 3, 2017

Health care hygiene compliance: Not just for hands anymore?

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It’s time to add ‘and stethoscope hygiene’ to ‘practice hand hygiene’ signs

Stethoscope blog

Changing habits is hard. We can see the data, understand the science and even participate in a training session, yet we go back to doing it like we always did.

That is precisely what researchers observed and documented in a recently published quality improvement project on stethoscope hygiene. In the July issue of the American Journal of Infection Control from the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC), researchers found that healthcare providers rarely perform stethoscope hygiene between patient encounters, despite its importance for infection prevention. The authors call for the inclusion of stethoscope hygiene in all hand hygiene initiatives.

Infection prevention is a complex undertaking, and stethoscope hygiene is an important component. Here are a few simple tips from 3M™ Littmann® stethoscopes along with some hand hygiene essentials.

Stethoscope blog chart

Barriers to change may exist at several levels. Maybe there is a level of disbelief that stethoscopes get as contaminated as hands, despite what research shows. Maybe wiping stethoscopes is perceived as inconvenient or there’s concern that sanitizers and wipes will damage the stethoscope (Tip: All Littmann stethoscopes feature next-generation tubing with improved resistance to alcohol). Whatever the obstacles, let’s challenge ourselves to identify and overcome them. It’s essential to patient safety.

At 3M, we are committed to a future without preventable infections. As with hand hygiene, cleaning stethoscopes between patients should be expected in all health care settings and supported by leadership and clinicians alike. The future of infection prevention and superior patient care will be built upon a culture of compliance. Be a stethoscope hygiene champion in your facility!


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Jun 23, 2017

8 Reasons the 3M™ Bair Hugger™ System is the Gold Standard in Patient Warming

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The 3M Bair Hugger System is the gold standard for patient warming. See the research in our updated Compendium.

The 3M Bair Hugger System is the gold standard for patient warming. See the research in our updated Compendium.

The 3M™ Bair Hugger™ forced-air warming system keeps patients warm throughout the perioperative process, which is integral to optimal clinical care and patient comfort. Below are eight great reasons you can trust the Bair Hugger system for your patient warming needs.

  1. Over 80% of US hospitals rely on the 3M Bair Hugger system to maintain normothermia.
  2. The 3M Bair Hugger system has safely and effectively warmed patients during surgery for nearly 30 years.
  3. More than 200 million patients have been warmed by Bair Hugger warming blankets or warming gowns.
  4. The number of patients warmed using the Bair Hugger system increases by nearly 50,000 each and every day.
  5. 8 of the top 10 orthopedic hospitals in the U.S. trust the 3M Bair Hugger system for their patient warming needs.¹
  6. The clinical effectiveness of forced-air warming has been documented in over 170 clinical studies and more than 60 randomized controlled clinical trials. Download the Bair Hugger research compendium to learn more.
  7. The 3M Bair Hugger system’s portfolio of 25 blanket designs (including seven underbody models) and three gown styles provides a warming option for nearly any surgical procedure.
  8. The 3M Bair Hugger Model 775 temperature management unit’s performance, precision and ease-of-use stands out from the competition.

Learn more about the 3M Bair Hugger system, or download the Bair Hugger Research Compendium.

1. U.S. News & World Report (online edition); 2015-16 Top Hospitals edition, Best Hospitals for Adult Orthopedics. Published July 21, 2015.
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Feb 22, 2017

The value of a positive vaporized hydrogen peroxide sterilization monitoring biological indicator

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The value of a positive VH2O2 BI

Sterilization monitoring expertise 

Since the 3M™ Attest™ System was created, it has monitored over 850 million sterilization cycles worldwide for steam and ethylene oxide. That same scientific research and development is now applied to the vaporized hydrogen peroxide (VH2O2) sterilization modality, which to-date has monitored approximately 500,000 cycles and has since received industry recognition as a 2016 Excellence in Surgical Products (ESP) Award winner!  With all of the information collected over the past four decades from users, we have become experts when it comes to biological indicator sterilization monitoring in healthcare facilities.

Challenging sterilization practices

Asking questions and researching technologies are some of the most important things anyone can do to become better and more efficient – and that is how we work. Biological indicators (BIs) by definition provide a strong challenge – they are the only monitor containing viable microorganisms and are intended to demonstrate whether or not the conditions were adequate to achieve sterilization.  Over the past few months the 3M Monitoring Technical team has been having great conversations about vaporized hydrogen peroxide sterilization. Some users of the 3M™ Attest™ Rapid Readout Biological Indicator 1295 for Vaporized Hydrogen Peroxide have seen positive biological indicators (failed cycles). To some this was alarming, since they have never experienced a failed load with vaporized hydrogen peroxide sterilization - but to us, this was an opportunity to really look at what was happening inside these sterilizers. Working together we discovered some very interesting real world challenges. We found common errors that caused positive BI’s due to the following:

  • Improper loading of the sterilizer chamber
  • Overloading the sterilizer chamber
  • Use of  incompatible materials
  • Over filling rigid containers
  • And, even using the wrong type of packaging

Some of these issues can change the chemistry of the vaporized hydrogen peroxide sterilant resulting in decomposition - meaning the molecular bonds come apart and/or change making the cycle less effective/lethal for some items in the load.

The fact that these conversations are now happening in the industry, and throughout the world, is good news! This dialogue is now helping sterile processing departments learn more and raise the standard of safety they deliver to the operating room and patients. Speed will always be important, but there is also tremendous value with consistency across sterilization modalities, and the advantage of support beyond a single modality. These materials are some of the most common and useful tools we have been delivering users:

For more help and live support you can talk to a sterilization monitoring technical expert by phone (1-800-441-1922, option 2)or submit a question online.

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Feb 7, 2017

Patient Safety: What Patients and Families Can Do To Prevent Surgical Site Infections

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When an infection occurs after surgery in the part of the body where surgery was performed, it is called a surgical site infection. These infections are not common, but they do occur in about 1 to 3 patients out of 100 who have surgery. Doctors, nurses and other members of the healthcare team are focusing on preventing these infections, by implementing practices that you may or may not know, including:

  • Washing their hands before each patient contact,
  • Sterilizing surgical instruments,
  • Washing their hands and arms before surgery,
  • Wearing hair coverings, masks, gowns and gloves during surgery,
  • Giving you antibiotics, if appropriate, right before your surgery,
  • If they need to remove hair where your incision will be, using a clipper instead of a razor, and
  • Washing your skin with a special soap, an antiseptic, to kill germs.

But, they cannot prevent infections without your help.

What can I do at home before surgery?

  • Before surgery, discuss any health problems with your physician. Allergies, diabetes, vascular disease, implants, obesity, and sleep apnea are some of the things that can affect your surgery, your treatment, and your recovery.
  • Make sure that you inform your doctor of any recent infections or any open sores.
  • Quit smoking. People who smoke are more likely to get a surgical site infection. Talk to your doctor about ways to successfully quit.
  • If you don’t have a thermometer, get one. You may need one after surgery.
  • If your physician or hospital gives you or instructs you to use a special soap for showering, or antiseptic wipes, follow the instructions for use. If you weren’t given or instructed to use a special soap, shower with soap and water the day of your surgery.
  • Do not shave the area where your incision will be.
  • If you use a CPAP machine, take it with you to the hospital/ambulatory surgery center.

It is very important for you to discuss your health issues with your doctor. For your incision to heal, it needs oxygen. So, the healthcare team needs to take precautions if you have sleep apnea. If you have had a recent infection, or have an open sore, surgery might need to be postponed to keep you safe. Most surgical site infections are from microorganisms on the skin, so making sure that your skin is clean is very important.

What can I do in the hospital or ambulatory surgery center before surgery?

  • Wash your hands.
  • Speak up:
    If someone tries to use a razor to shave your incision site.
    If you do not see a provider wash his/her hands before touching you.

It might seem uncomfortable to speak up. But, your nurses and doctors want to do the right thing, and if they forget to wash their hands, they want you to remind them. Say something like, “I was told to remind anyone caring for me to wash their hands if I didn’t see them do it.”

What can I do after surgery?

  • Wash your hands, especially after using the toilet or blowing your nose.
  • Ask family and friends to wash their hands when they enter your room.
  • Speak up if you do not see a provider wash his/her hands.
  • Listen to the instructions preparing you for after you leave the hospital, and have someone else with you to also listen to this important information.
  • Ask questions if you are unsure of anything.

Surgery is likely a stressful experience for you. And, you may not be able to retain all of the information that you are given. Having a second set of ears to listen to instructions is very helpful.

What can I do at home after surgery?

  • Wash your hands.
  • Ask family and friends to wash their hands when they enter your room.
  • Do not let family and friends touch your incision or dressing.
  • Follow the instructions given to you at the hospital or ambulatory surgery center.
  • If you are given antibiotics, take the pills as instructed, and take all of the pills.
  • Notify your physician immediately if you notice any symptoms of infection such as:
    Redness or swelling around the incision.
    Drainage of cloudy fluid from your incision.

If you have any questions, call the contact number on your discharge instructions.

Having a young family member make a “high five” sign saying “Please wash your hands,” is a creative way to engage the whole family. And having a bottle of hand antiseptic nearby makes it easy. If you are given an antibiotic, it is very important that you take every pill, even if you feel fine. If you don’t do this, the microorganisms can become resistant to antibiotics and very difficult to treat. It is not unusual to have questions after surgery. You might not think of these while you are in the hospital. We want you to call if you have questions. You aren’t bothering the doctor or nurse. We want you to do this.

Patients and healthcare providers are partners in preventing surgical site infections. We are doing a lot, but we need your help so that you can have a positive surgical experience, heal well, and have the best possible outcome.

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Jan 24, 2017

Better medical adhesives, better outcomes

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Even under normal conditions it’s tough to stick something to skin. Skin is flexible. It stretches and sweats. Skin’s natural oils cause water to bead up. A medical adhesive must accommodate all these conditions and more.

And stickiness is only half the equation. A medical adhesive must also remove easily, without causing pain, and without leaving residue or damaging often delicate skin.

Surgical Drape Health Care Academy Learning Course

Learn the “do and don’t” of draping and taping

The science of sticky

A pressure-sensitive adhesive that sticks firmly yet is easy to remove requires the right physical properties. It must tolerate movement and moisture, and be scientifically formulated to transmit vapor away from the skin.

Creating such an adhesive requires cutting-edge science and technology. It takes a multi-disciplinary approach that combines the efforts of numerous professionals including engineers, chemists and biologists. But the results are worth the effort: better patient experience and a higher standard of care.

Wound care that helps heal, doesn’t hurt

A good wound dressing helps create an environment where a wound can heal. And it does the job without increasing the risk of Medical Adhesive-Related Skin Injuries (MARSI).

The adhesive in the dressing plays an important role. It should move vapor away from the skin to prevent moisture build-up that could cause the adhesive to fail and the dressing to lift. When a dressing is removed from skin the adhesive should facilitate a removal that is gentle, doesn’t cause pain and doesn’t leave a residue.

Medical adhesives are also a critical component of the numerous medical tapes used throughout the health care continuum. Health care providers need a variety of tapes to address a variety of clinical needs. Some medical tapes feature high adhesion for damp skin. Others, like some silicone tapes, can be easily repositioned or cleanly removed without causing pain.

A surgical drape that stays put

One of the most significant risks to a patient during surgery is the bacteria that lives on their own skin. Surgical preps do not sterilize the skin. There is always some bacteria left on the patient’s skin even after the most effective prep.

An incise drape, applied before surgery begins, provides a sterile surface all the way to the edge of the surgical wound. The drape immobilizes bacteria on the skin to help reduce the risk of bacterial wound contamination. But in order to reduce the risk of surgical site contamination, the drape must stay put.

Many procedures, like heart surgery, require the surgeon to retract the skin after incision which puts a lot of stress on the drape. You must have a good adhesive to keep the drape in place. And drape lift during surgery has been associated with an increased risk of surgical site infection (SSI).1 An adhesive with a high degree of stickiness can help prevent drape lift.

Deploying science to improve patient experience and cost of care

For patients, a wound dressing or surgical drape that works as intended helps achieve the desired outcomes and avoid complications that can cause the patient and their family pain, suffering and expense. And it gives health care professionals the peace of mind they’re doing all they can to provide the best possible standard of care.

Science plays a role in choosing a clinical approach. But it’s how science is used to comfort and protect patients that makes it powerful.

Featured 3MSM Health Care Academy learning course, Medical Grade Adhesives: The Do and Don’t of Draping and Taping.

1Alexander JW, Aerni S, and Plettner JP. 1985. Development of a safe and effective one-minute preoperative skin preparation. Arch Surg. 120:1357-1361.

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