Could Natural Language Processing Help Close Gaps in Infection Prevention and Patient Safety Events?

Natural language processing (NLP) is an increasingly ubiquitous form of artificial intelligence (AI). Best described as where computer science meets linguistics, it uses computational linguistics and machine learning to analyze human language. 

NLP powers virtual assistants like Alexa and Siri, predictive text for emails, spelling and grammar checkers, and sentiment analysis in reviews. In addition to consumer use cases, NLP is used in medicine to identify risk factors, estimate risk, or predict events of disease development or readmissions across cardiovascular, endocrine, metabolic, and neurological diseases. And it’s put to work in patient engagement—with NLP-powered chatbots supporting pharmacy interactions, COVID-19 management, and primary care triage.

Does NLP have a potential role in supporting infection prevention? Let’s explore the possibilities.

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Topics: Infection Prevention

How To: Safe Administration of Vaccines

​​​​​​​Vaccinations are an important tool for building immunity to prevent illness, disability, and death resulting from infectious diseases. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 4 million deaths worldwide are prevented by childhood vaccination each year.

As with any medication, errors can occur during the prescribing, preparation, handling, storage, or administration of vaccines. Vaccination errors can affect not only the patient receiving the vaccine but also others who are exposed to the patient if infectious diseases reemerge.

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Topics: Infection Prevention

Candida Auris Cases Are on the Rise. How Can Infection Prevention Respond?

Posted by Susan Singh, Infection Preventionist, ECRI on Oct 17, 2023

​​​​​​​Candida auris (C. auris)—an emerging fungus considered an urgent antimicrobial resistance (AR) threat—is on the rise in the United States. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, C. auris spread at an alarming rate in U.S. healthcare facilities from 2020 to 2021. In fact, the number of cases resistant to echinocandins in 2021 was about three times that in each of the previous two years.

According to the CDC’s 2022 Special Report: COVID-19 U.S. Impact on AR, there were 171 clinical cases in 2017, 329 cases in 2018, and 466 cases in 2019. In 2020, there were 754 cases—representing a 60-percent increase. The CDC has categorized C. auris as an “urgent” pathogen based on the level of concern to human health. 

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Topics: Infection Prevention

Hand Hygiene: Fundamentals to Prevent HAIs

​​​​​​​Proper hand hygiene by healthcare workers is considered to be one of the most important practices for preventing healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) (CDC "Guideline for Hand Hygiene"). HAIs can happen anywhere healthcare is delivered including hospitals; outpatient settings such as doctor's offices, ambulatory surgical centers, and dialysis facilities; and long-term care facilities such as nursing homes and rehabilitation centers. They may be caused by any infectious agent, although most are caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungi (ODPHP).

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Topics: Infection Prevention

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