September 2021

Evidence-based strategies for infection prevention in long-term care: webinar recap

Infection Prevention Post Acute Webinar recap

It’s a matter of getting back to the basics—and compliance

The numbers are daunting. As many as 3 million serious infections occur each year in long-term care facilities (LTCFs), and approximately 380,000 residents die from them. Largely in the form of urinary tract infections, diarrheal diseases, antibiotic-resistant staph infections and many others, they lead to 63 percent of overall deaths in LTCFs and are the primary reason for 25 to 50 percent of transfers to acute care hospitals.1

3 million

serious infections occur in LTCFs each year1


residents die from infection every year1

In a webinar titled, “Evidence-Based Strategies for Infection Prevention and Control in Long Term Care” for McKnight’s Long-Term Care News, Nikki Cracknell, MS, RN, senior manager of Clinical Development and a medical science liaison in Medical Affairs at Medline, talks about the risks, their significance and how they occur. She also shares evidence-based infection prevention and control best practices to help keep people safe.

Didn’t see the webinar?

Access it here or read on for key takeaways from the discussion.

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Why infection outbreaks occur

More than 4 million Americans are admitted to nursing homes and skilled nursing facilities each year for the short or long term, and nearly 1 million reside in assisted living facilities.2 When people—many of them with compromised immune systems—are living this close together, they’re more likely to pick up infections that are transmitted from person to person or through cross-contamination in their surroundings.

C. difficile and other multidrug-resistant organisms (MDROs)—organisms that can’t easily be killed by antibiotics—are on the rise and are the cause of many of these infections. In fact, 64 percent of nursing home residents harbor at least one MDRO.3

So, what can we do?

Start with good hand hygiene

It’s hard to believe, but 80 percent of all infections are transmitted by hand, yet 61 percent of healthcare workers don’t adequately wash theirs.4 We can minimize infection by getting back to something as simple but extremely important as good hand hygiene. This means:

  • Wash hands for at least 20 seconds using a 60 percent alcohol-based hand rub (ABHR) with soap and water when handling patients or residents.5
  • In the case of C. difficile, wear gloves.
  • Place soap and ABHR dispensers throughout facilities.

Explore new ways to prevent and control infection

  • Have a designated infection preventionist and multidisciplinary oversight team to detect, treat, contain and prevent transmission.
  • Implement outbreak control measures as soon as possible.
  • Use antimicrobial ointments (mupirocin or PVP-I) and body washes (chlorhexidine gluconate) to prevent healthcare-associated infections.
  • Select cleaning products specifically formulated and EPA-registered to kill some of the most contagious and hard-to-kill pathogens.
  • Have clear messaging and policies for hand hygiene and other basic practices.
  • Invest in ongoing training and education so that clinical and professional cleaning staff understand the important role they play in infection prevention and use best practices.
  • Have protocols for transferring residents to and from facilities.
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Key takeaway

Long-term care providers who have a robust infection prevention strategy that’s 1) built on evidence-based information and best practices when it comes to caring for residents and maintaining a safe environment, 2) is mindful of the basics—starting with handwashing—and 3) is committed to ongoing training and communication is the surest way of reducing the risk of transmission and keeping residents safe.

Looking for more insights and strategies to fight infection?

Learn how to create a culture of safety and fight the spread of pathogens

Explore new ways to make hand hygiene second nature.

Read the article, Target zero harm with a 3-zone prevention strategy.


  4. Collins AS. Preventing Health Care-Associated Infections. In: Hughes RG, editor. Patient Safety and Quality: An Evidence-Based Handbook for Nurses. Rockville (MD): Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (US); 2008 Apr. Chapter 41. Available to download from; WHO Guidelines on Hand Hygiene in Health Care: First Global Patient Safety Challenge Clean Care Is Safer Care. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2009. 5, Normal bacterial flora on hands. Available for download from; Hand Hygiene in Healthcare Settings. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Available for download from
  5. Ellingson K. McDonald C. Infection Control Hosp Epedemiol 2010; 31:571-3; Johnson et al. Am J Med 1990; 88:137-40