Five Trends in Infection Prevention for 2020

Author: Debra Hagberg MT (ASCP), CIC

Categories: General Infection Prevention January 15, 2020
2020_Infection Prevention Trends

Like the genome of a multi-drug resistant strain of bacteria, the field of infection prevention doesn’t stay static for long. In 2020, new threats will undoubtedly emerge, new guidelines will come into effect, and new technologies and protocols will further the field. The hope is that the benefits of these positive trends will outweigh the negatives, continuing the gradual decrease in hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) over time.

Below highlights some of the new discussions, products, and approaches that we believe will shape the infection prevention space in 2020, empowering medical centers (and now long-term care facilities) to further reduce their risk.

1. Layering (aka bundling) as a comprehensive approach to infection prevention

Instead of relying on one product or method, infection preventionists (IPs) overlay a number of evidence-based practices to reduce the risk of HAIs. For starters, products and protocols may not be 100% effective due to variations in user techniques and different levels of efficacy. By applying a multi-faceted approach to infection prevention, this would cover gaps associated with a single intervention.

Different infection prevention supplies and protocols are used based on the intended procedure and the risk of infection transmission. For example, when inserting a central line, a combination of products and practices are used to optimally break the chain of infection associated with the environment, the clinician and the patient. This may include appropriate skin antiseptics, sterile products and gloves, hand sanitizers, surface disinfectant wipes, and proven checklists. The idea is to safeguard against HAIs, in the most robust way possible, to eliminate pathogen transmission.

In 2020, we expect the layering approach to continue to build momentum, driven by industry discussions and the availability of new technologies, such as touch-free UVC disinfection (see trend 3 for more info). Keep an eye on industry expert William A. Rutala, Ph.D., M.P.H., who has published some of the seminal work in the field. If you’re still getting up-to-speed, Dr. Rutala’s 2019 paper on bundling in health care facilities in the American Journal of Infection Control is an excellent place to start.


2. Drug-resistant Candida

While total HAIs are gradually decreasing in the United States, there is growing (and warranted) concern over drug-resistant strains of Candida. A number of strains of this fungus readily spread throughout hospitals and can cause bloodstream infections (candidemia), which are highly lethal in vulnerable patient populations.

In the U.S., the CDC estimates that around 25,000 cases of candidemia occur annually. Along with the devastating human impact, candidemia inevitably demands longer hospital stays and, in turn, increased healthcare costs.

As always, prevention is the best cure – particularly because many strains are multi-drug resistant. To learn more about preventing and eliminating this pervasive fungus from healthcare settings, check out our “Emerging Pathogen Alert – Candida auris” infographic.


3. UVC disinfection

It’s fairly easy to wipe a non-porous flat surface, but germs can live anywhere which is why every object in a room should be a priority when it comes to cleaning and disinfection. Moreover, how do you do this quickly and routinely every time a room needs to be terminally cleaned? The answer is with UVC, touch-free technology.

In 2020, these smart instruments are moving from a nice-to-have to a hospital necessity. Their not-so-secret weapon is ultraviolet C (UVC) light, which is a natural germicide. Tru-DÒ SmartUVC robots (recently acquired by PDI) can accurately calculate the precise dose of UVC light needed to kill up to 99.9% of harmful pathogens, including the common bacteria, viruses, and protozoa that infiltrate hospitals. As a touch-free solution, the UVC rays can penetrate the microorganisms within every nook and cranny in a room.

UVC disinfection devices are easy-to-use, chemical-free, environmentally friendly, and fit nicely into a layered or bundled approach to infection prevention, serving as a final line of defense that greatly reduces human error.

Tru-D Smart UVC Product Image

Tru-D Smart UVC Product Image

4. Awareness of touchscreen contamination

Digital technology has increased the sophistication of healthcare. A whole world of information is now available at our fingertips, through everything from customer kiosks, to touch-screen computers, to the ubiquitous smartphone. However, touchscreens are also a formidable source of contamination and recontamination with pathogenic microorganisms – undoing the effects of even the best hand sanitizing solution.

Not only are touchscreens in constant use, but the warmth emanating from the devices also creates a fertile breeding ground for microorganisms. In a recent analysis of 100 cell phones collected from patients, doctors, and healthcare staff at a single facility, 93 were contaminated with bacteria and 80% of the bacteria detected were resistant to antibiotics. Healthcare staff often rotate between centers and take these devices everywhere – even to their homes.

So, will 2020 be the year that touchscreen hygiene in clinical settings takes off? The widespread use of screen cleaners, beyond the NICU, is long overdue. Fortunately, innovative products have made routine screen cleaning incredibly easy. Our Easy Screen Cleaning Wipes, for example, are ready to go and compatible with the common touchscreen equipment found in hospitals. Due to high rates of recontamination, healthcare staff needs to remain vigilant. By the end of 2020, cleaning touchscreens should be second nature.


5. CMS long-term care regulations

Growing concerns regarding infections in long-term care facilities had prompted the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to phase in requirements on infection prevention and control, starting in November 2016 (phase 1) and ending in November 2019 (phase 3). Though several of the recommendations have long been in place at many facilities, enforcement of the program by CMS in order for facilities to remain eligible for funding has taken on a new life form.

Portions of the phase 3 recommendations have been delayed, however, the push from CMS has not lost momentum.

Implementation of robust infection prevention and control programs (IPCPs) at long-term care facilities will be in top demand in 2020. If you’re not sure where to start, read this great overview article by Joan Hebden, RN, MS, CIC, FAPIC.


Debra Hagberg MT (ASCP), CIC
debra Director, Clinical Affairs, PDI


Debra (Deb) started her career in the microbiology laboratory. Though loving the daily reading of cultures, her passion for infection prevention surfaced when an opportunity to become an Infection Preventionist (IP) opened up in her organization. Deb’s strong background in microbiology and infectious disease made the transition to an IP role easier.

After several years in healthcare, Deb took a role as PDI’s first Clinical Science Liaison (CSL), providing clinical expertise to customers in the Northeast region of the country. Learn more about Debra here.



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