|Image Source: http://bizarro.com|
I’m hoping at least a few of you will remember the TV game show – “The Weakest Link with host Anne Robinson”.The insults and verbal sparring that went on with some of the contestants and Ms. Robinson were truly epic to watch. For quite some time after the show aired, “you are the weakest link” was used by people for all sorts of reasons. If you enjoyed studying Darwin as I did, I often wonder why he did not trademark the phrase! I’m sure many of us have thought (if not said it) to friends, family members or sports team mates even after a particularly bad game. I was a show jumper – if the round went bad, as much as I wanted to blame my horse, the truth was I was in the “driver’s seat” so a bad round was generally a result of my bad judgment.
The concept of “the weakest link” is perfect for infection prevention programs, be it surface disinfection, hand hygiene or medical device reprocessing. The success of these programs relies on people understanding and completing their job correctly each and every time. Think about it – if you cut corners cleaning a patient room what happens? We have the very real potential to miss pathogens that can be transmitted and lead to infection. The same can happen with poor hand hygiene compliance and improper medical device reprocessing. We all know it’s true and I only need to cite a few headlines that have hit the news due to an outbreak or reams of peer reviewed studies on the topic.
Back in 2011, I wrote a blog “Top 10 Disinfectant Offences” based on feedback from readers telling me about times they have seen disinfectants used incorrectly. I hope you’ll go back and read the blog, but the “top” 3 were: The Instruction Ignorers, The Custodial Chemist and The Sink or Swim Squad. I think (hope) the groups are pretty self-explanatory – people knowingly ignore instructions, they mix up their own concoctions to make things smell better, streak less, or what have you, or fail to have an effective training program to ensure that people are armed with the knowledge it takes to get the job done.
Why am I going on about the weakest link and Darwin’s theory of natural selection? Well, as introduced last week, we are up against the Microbe Militia. Errors in cleaning environmental surfaces, errors in cleaning our hands and errors in medical devices ensure there are opportunities for the Microbe Militia to take hold and wreak havoc by causing HAIs. If you want to learn about other common mistakes in cleaning surfaces, hands or devices check out the Insights Blog. Come join our Infection Prevention Army!