Outbreak Response Investigations
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Outbreak Response Investigations

Spikes in hospital-acquired infections at a healthcare facility are always concerning — but how do you determine whether the increase might indicate an “outbreak”?

Healthcare facilities are uniquely positioned as the place where people go to regain health when they are ill. There is a high level of trust given to healthcare systems, making it especially hurtful when outbreaks of disease occur from within the facility. Preventative programs, periodic monitoring and quick action can often catch and stop an outbreak or potential outbreak before it becomes a widespread and much-discussed problem.

The agents contributing to an outbreak can be unleashed by an environmental issue or by the activities of people in the environment. Legionnaires’ disease, for instance, is a severe form of pneumonia that typically spreads through contaminated water that has aerosolized. Amplification of Legionella bacteria in water systems can arise suddenly to threaten the health of those whose immune systems are already compromised. Other examples include outbreaks stemming from Pseudomonas Aeruginosa, Candida Auris, and Clostridiodes difficile.

While infection preventionists on staff have the knowledge to investigate outbreaks clinically, many may not have the knowledge and experience to evaluate the health of the environment using sampling and analytical techniques. This can cause a delay in the outbreak investigation and identifying sources. Rapid response can be crucial when sampling for agents that may not survive on surfaces for long periods of time and no longer be present.

Outbreaks and clusters of healthcare-acquired infection related to environmental hazards are becoming more common. Don’t get caught off guard; be prepared. By requesting FACS environmental experts to investigate when an outbreak is suspected, you combine your expertise with ours to protect your people and your facility.

Key Agents & Issues

  • Outbreak response investigations
  • Construction Risk Management and Monitoring
  • Environmental sampling plan development and execution
  • Waterborne pathogen management and response
  • Onsite staff training and support
  • Review and development of environmental programs and plans (e.g., water management)

The healthcare industry is rife with challenges that continue to evolve. Fortunately, FACS has consistently proven its dependability in Industrial Hygiene and other related services. Our organization values urgency, and FACS always delivers whenever we require their assistance. They are committed to adopting the best practices to meet our standards, and we remain focused on ensuring employee safety and a positive patient experience. FACS has been an instrumental partner in helping us achieve our mission, thanks to their team of highly experienced and trustworthy professionals.

Patrion McMickle, MS
Senior Manager, Occupational Safety & Health

Case Study

Fungal Infection Outbreak at a Medical Center

Forensic Analytical Consulting Services, Inc. (FACS) was retained by a university medical
center to evaluate indoor environmental quality with respect to Rhizopus fungal spores in the air and on surfaces in their bone marrow therapy department. While no single source of the reported outbreak was identified, FACS did uncover conditions and issues that have the potential to negatively impact environmental quality at the facility.

See the full case study

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