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Prevent your ER from becoming a hotbed of infections

Quality Improvement Report, June 1, 2008

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Your hospital’s ER is full of opportunities for infectious-disease transmission. In no other area of the hospital are you more likely to find an active tuberculosis (TB) patient, a patient with influenza, and an otherwise healthy patient with a sprained ankle sitting next to each other in the waiting room.

Infection control (IC) challenges in the ER are further compounded by the issue of overcrowding. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the patient population of Baton Rouge (LA) General Hospital’s ER swelled, as displaced New Orleans residents, who were forced to leave their primary care physicians behind, sought medical attention, says Connie DeLeo, the hospital’s IC coordinator.

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