Outbreak Investigation, Public Health and Health Policy
Concurrent Education Session - 60 minutes
Steven Schweon, RN, MPH, MSN, CIC, FSHEA, FAPIC
APIC Consulting: Consultant/Advisory Board; Crothall Healthcare/TouchPoint: Consultant/Advisory Board; Qualidigm: Consultant/Advisory Board
A norovirus outbreak on a behavioral health unit, or milieu, results in multiple challenges for the patients, healthcare personnel (HCP), and the behavioral health IP. In some instances, norovirus control guidelines may not be completely applicable in the behavioral health setting. Patients may have behavioral or cognitive impairments that may interfere with implementing evidence-based practices to thwart additional pathogen transmission. The acute care IP may potentially face a multitude of challenges not commonly encountered in their setting. Examples include:
• The wearing of procedural masks, (without a metal band), by either HCP and/or, patients, may induce paranoia feelings in patients.
• Personal protective equipment (e.g., gloves), cannot be left at the bedside due to the potential ligature risk.
• Norovirus sporicidal products may not be accessible to the patients due to the risk of ingestion.
• HCP may not honestly disclose their personal health status, resulting in presenteeism and potential additional transmission.
An outbreak can create a plethora of reactions and emotions, some unexpected, from both the patients and staff. This session discusses a specific norovirus outbreak in a behavioral health hospital and discusses the multitude of interventions that led to its cessation.