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Best Practices for Preventing Airborne Infections

• Set up the heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems according to the specific guidelines from the American Institute of Architects for special patient and treatment areas to prevent the spread of airborne contaminants.

  • • Monitor outdoor air intake systems and inspect filters on a regular basis.
  • • Remove any bird roosting areas or nests near outdoor air intake systems.
  • • Place air exhaust systems downwind from the building away from air intake systems.
  • • Establish and maintain appropriate humidity controls in all HVAC systems.
  • • Use filtration, which is the removal of particulates containing microorganisms, chemicals, dust, and smoke, to remove at the source the substances which may cause disease.
  • • Use ultraviolet germicidal irradiation as a secondary air cleaning measure in the duct work leaving the area containing the exhaust air. Frequent maintenance and cleaning of the ultraviolet units is necessary.
  • • Establish an appropriate schedule for frequently evaluating the cleanliness of ventilation systems, grills, and filters. Replace the filters on a routine basis and also when found to be dirty.
  • • Use a system of 90% efficiency filters, and clean and maintain all ductwork and grills in the ventilation system to prevent the spread of disease.
  • • Do not use fans in high-risk areas especially where there are immunocompromised patients.
  • • Use 99.97% efficiency HEPA filters and appropriate maintenance schedules in specialized areas such as surgical suites, burn units, ICU units, areas with immunocompromised patients, neonatal nurseries, etc.
  • • Use the latest appropriate ventilation guidelines which indicate where negative pressure is mandated and where positive pressure is mandated for all areas of the facilities including patient rooms, labor/delivery areas, isolation rooms, emergency rooms, radiology, procedure rooms, surgery, critical care areas, pharmacies, sterilizing and supply areas, linen areas, etc., as identified by the Facility Guidelines Institute and updated every 4 years. These guidelines are the consensus of a multidisciplinary group of experts from the federal government, state governments, and private sector. They are based on practical evidence-based decision-making processes that are conducted in a scientific manner. (See endnotes 12, 13.)
  • • Use single bed rooms instead of multiple bed rooms with HEPA filters to prevent transmission of healthcare-associated infections through the air.
  • • During construction and renovation, use portable HEPA filters, physical barriers between patients and construction areas, negative air pressure in construction/renovation areas, and sealing of patient windows.
 
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