Tackling Troublesome Turnaround Times


More often than not, hospitals find themselves inundated with patients and the pressure on beds results in a constant juggling act. Improving patient flow is one of the main ways in which hospitals can reduce delays, streamline processes and subsequently make cost savings. Yet inevitably, most hospitals struggle to achieve an optimum flow of patients. In many cases, this is caused by logistical delays, such as waiting for a room to be cleaned following patient discharge. So, are hospitals missing a trick when it comes to improving their turnaround times, and, if so, what can be done?

Hospitals Should Be ‘24/7 Operations’

Most organisations have a brief period of downtime on the basis that this is a time when essential tasks such as cleaning, restocking, reorganising and so forth are carried out. But in an environment that has to operate around the clock, these opportunities are few and far between.

In his controversial bid to create an NHS with ‘more transparency’ and ‘fewer targets’, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has been pushing hard for accessible 24/7 hospital services for all. But as with anything that requires continued, uninterrupted service, this will only be achievable if the NHS has the right balance of resources and infrastructure. Whilst many hospitals have the innate ability to offer the service Mr Hunt is demanding, they simply don’t have the manpower and resources to deliver on those expectations. But with little chance of him relenting, hospitals are being left with no option but to explore ways in which they can adopt smarter working practices to ensure they can continue to meet the ever-increasing demands being placed upon them.

Time to call in extra help?

Many studies have revealed that terminal cleaning has its limitations, and, when it comes to infection outbreaks, hospitals must tackle the situation quickly and effectively. In recent years, as understanding of the effective treatment and management of infection outbreaks has markedly improved, it is becoming increasingly commonplace for hospitals to outsource whole-room and patient equipment decontamination tasks to specialist companies who can provide on-demand services, along with a ready assurance that rooms are left infection free.

From a patient turnaround perspective, it can often be a catch-22 situation. Whilst it may seem counterproductive to keep a room empty for 2.5 hours whilst it is decontaminated using a Deprox® system, the associated risks of the new patient waiting in A&E for a bed to become free, picking up an infection that requires further treatment, a longer stay in hospital, or that even becomes fatal, justifies this wait.

In healthcare settings already experiencing significant levels of pressure, the risks of infection outbreak are too great to ignore, and when they have the potential to bring entire wards to a standstill, an urgent response is required. The use of more advanced decontamination technologies, such as hydrogen peroxide vapour systems, can deal with such issues with minimal downtime and interference, ensuring that patient turnaround time is optimised.

Jay Turner Gardner, Head of Nursing, Infection Prevention & Tissue Viability at Wythenshawe Hospital, opted for an On-Call Decontamination Service with Deprox® after noticing a rising number of cases of CPE. She was painfully aware of the impact that it could have, particularly when it hit the orthopaedic and vascular wards.

“The real impact of CPE hitting these wards was that operations had to be cancelled, there were further complications with critically ill patients and increased disruption across other areas of the hospital. The On-Call Deprox® service was ideal, because we only paid for it when we needed it, but it was available to use at any time of the day or night. It meant that as soon as we identified a problem, we could make a call and an engineer would be on site within a few hours,” Jay explains.

Following use of the On-Call Decontamination Service, combined with a new screening programme, Wythenshawe Hospital was able to effectively manage the rising cases of CPE and eradicate all cases of cross-infection. They also noticed that Deprox® was helping to reduce cases of C. difficile too. Ultimately, reducing the risk of patients contracting healthcare acquired infections ensured that patients bed days were kept to a minimum at Wythenshawe Hospital, thus helping to keep the optimum flow of patients moving around the hospital.

A round-the-clock service needs round-the-clock support

In order for hospitals like Wythenshawe to tackle infection risks quickly and effectively, they need to have suppliers who can address their needs at any time of the day or night. With Hygiene Solutions, an on-call decontamination service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and with 90% of calls resulting in an engineer being on site within 2 hours, an infected side room vacated at 2 am could be ready for the next patient by 7 am! How’s that for your 24/7 service Mr Hunt?

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