Clearing the AIIR about the Ebola Scare

The monitoring and management of hospital personnel potentially exposed to patients with Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) has brought a renewed focus to the protocols, equipment and isolation rooms used in these quarantine situations. Although Ebola is not considered an airborne disease, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that healthcare facilities restrict certain procedures and treatment for Ebola patients to a private room – ideally an Airborne Infection Isolation Room (AIIR) – when feasible.

In a healthcare facility, control of airborne contaminants is essential to providing a safe, healing environment. Yet many healthcare facilities today still rely on smoke tubes or flutter strips to check the airflow and differential pressure of critical healthcare areas, including the AIIRs being used when treating certain infectious diseases. This despite guidelines from the CDC, Joint Commission and ANSI/ASHRAE/ASHE that call for permanently installed monitoring devices for more precise control and safety.

With the Ebola scare, hospitals around the country are quickly realizing they need to adopt a more consistent, continuous, automated method of monitoring for CDC compliance, not only for Ebola, but also for patients with serious, communicable airborne diseases.

The challenge is time. Installing most environmental monitoring systems often requires additional transmitters, bridges or other hardware in addition to the installation of the sensors themselves. However, customers using or adopting the SNS™ platform are leveraging their existing network infrastructure for continuous monitoring simply by adding SNS™ Differential Pressure Monitoring sensors, one of several Wi-Fi based indoor air quality sensors from Primex Wireless.

As your organization considers its differential pressure monitoring situation going forward, Primex Wireless is here to help. Below is a list of reference websites and a link to guidelines for using differential pressure monitoring to protect patients, caregivers and visitors.

The 2013 USP Compliance Study

The results of the 2013 USP Chapter <797> Compliance Study show hospital pharmacies continue to struggle with USP Chapter <797> compliance. While a majority of respondents believe USP <797> is a valuable standard of practice that should be implemented, financial/budgetary restrictions and physical plant limitations are considered to be the primary barriers to adoption of all the guidelines.

The national study of sterile compounding practices has been conducted for the last three years by Pharmacy Purchasing & Products Magazine in partnership with CriticalPoint, LLC. The 2013 study included 1,045 participants, 76 percent from hospital pharmacies. In addition to the questions that measured compliance to 36 specific domains, participants were asked to provide feedback regarding the drivers and barriers to adoption of the USP <797> guidelines.

Differential Pressure Compliance Lags
One of the areas that received low scores on the survey is airflows and pressure differential monitoring. USP <797> has specific requirements for pressure differential monitoring, maintenance and documentation. Yet when study participants were asked the following question, only 56.6 percent gave an affirmative answer:

“There is evidence that mechanisms exist to report excursions, repair defects, and document actions taken as a result of any out of limit pressure/airflow condition until resolution.”

The number of respondents in compliance is up from 49.8 percent in 2011, but is down from the 2012 results of 59.8 percent.

Monitoring airflows is a fairly simple way to decrease the incidence of airborne contaminants in sterile processing areas. Continuous monitoring with audible, visual and email notification capabilities can detect changes in pressure differentials as soon as they occur and automatically alert the proper personnel to take action. Pharmacy personnel do not have to take manual readings several times a day and can concentrate on more valuable tasks. If pressure differential excursions do occur, they are immediately detected, reported and documented in complete compliance with USP Chapter <797>. Compare the features of SNS Differential Pressure Monitoring to the requirements of USP <797> and other regulatory agencies »

Visit the Pharmacy Purchasing & Products website to read the full results of the 2013 USP <797> Compliance Study »

To access the free Gap Analysis tools and receive a free action plan to improve your USP <797> compliance, visit CriticalPoint, LLC »

Close