Controlling Infection Spread in Waiting Rooms

Controlling Infection Spread in Waiting Rooms

Have you been to see your doctor recently? Many clinics, urgent care centers, emergency rooms and physician practice waiting rooms are not a safe place during this cold and flu season.
The United States experiences epidemics of seasonal flu each year. This time of year is called “flu season.” In the United States, flu season occurs in the winter; flu outbreaks can happen as early as October and can last as late as May.
Waiting rooms can be made safer by following a few simple principles and practices:
• Make hand sanitizer readily available for patients waiting to see the doctor;
• Offer an antiviral face mask to patients and healthcare workers;
• Place boxes of facial tissue around the waiting room;
• Post signage on entrance door(s) reminding patients to follow strict protocols to prevent the spread of flu and colds;
• Signage should include: “Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick”; “Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth” and “Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.
• Throughout the day or shift, the staff should use pre-saturated disinfectant wipes with an influenza A & B kill claim to rid the waiting room furniture and high touch items of bacteria and viruses;
• Create containment plans that keep patients with flu-like symptoms away from others;
• Insure that employees (including physicians) practice frequent hand hygiene episodes throughout the day (shift).
It may be impossible to prevent the spread of colds and influenza, but we should follow these simple suggestions for controlling their spread.

About Darrel Hicks

J. Darrel Hicks, B.A., is the author of Wiley Publishing's "Infection Prevention For Dummies", and is nationally recognized as one of the top experts in infection control. Darrel Hicks is also the Past President of the IEHA and is an active member in AHE where he holds the designation of CHESP. View all posts by Darrel Hicks

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