Infection Control in the Pediatric Sleep Center
Have you thought about infection control?
If your sleepcenter performs pediatric studies you need a good workingknowledge of pediatric-related infection control! We would be wise to remember that Universal Precautions apply to pediatric as well as to adult patients.
Sometimes Children are Sick
Childhood illnesses can cause significant morbidity and, in some cases, mortality. They are more prone to development of acute illnesses;young children in daycare and school average 8-12 instances of upper respiratory infection and 1-2 instances of vomiting / diarrhea illnesses per year. In the winter and spring months, the chances are very high that pediatric patients will either be recovering from, suffering from, or showing early symptoms of some type of contagious illness.
Children Can Infect Others
Think about the adults in your sleep center. Those with compromised immune systems or chronic illnesses may be devastatingly vulnerable to childhood illnesses. If you testchildren under age 2 months or premature infants they may also become quite ill with seemingly innocent infections. If you have pediatric patients, it is likely that you will have a sick child in the sleep center for the night.
Sources of Infection
Sick children contaminate everything. They touch their beds, toys in the room, and any available equipment. Possible sources of contamination include pacifiers, teething rings, and patient stuffed animals. Toys and books in the room, crib rails, and beds are often contaminated, particularly with bed wetting patients.Make sure you have cleaning and disinfecting guidelines for decontaminating surfaces that have been exposed to known contagions.
Considerations for Staff
You need policies and procedures in place for hand hygiene and cleaning of equipment. Put in place a method for proper disposal of dirty diapers, and remind staff to wash their hands immediately after changing a diaper. Hand sanitizer is a good option, but it must be kept out of the reach of children. Sanitizing wipes should be readily available to clean patient rooms and toys at the conclusion of each pediatric patient visit. No toys should be available in the sleep center that cannot be wiped clean with a sanitizing cloth (no stuffed animals!).
Measles, mumps, chickenpox, pertussis (whooping cough), and other diseases can be passed on to others. All of these diseases can be transmitted through contact with secretions and, in some cases, direct contact with skin lesions. The viruses that cause chicken pox and measles, in particular, can linger in the air for hours. Children with these viruses can transmit the disease to adults with low immunity or other children. Other pediatric-related illnesses to consider include salmonella, yeast infections such as thrush, pinkeye, and other common viruses.
When to Reschedule
All sleep centers should have policies in place regarding when to reschedule patients who arrive with fevers or potentially contagious illnesses. Consider that little ones with stuffy noses may need to be rescheduled as nasal obstruction may make it impossible to record airflow.
Children love to play, hug, and touch. If you take care of children in your sleep center, I am sure you have done all of these things. Just remember to wash your hands before and after patient contact (as we should always do anyway) and enjoy the experience of taking care of our most special patient populations!
Sleep technologists – have you considered these issues in your sleep center? Do you have pediatric tips that you can share?