Hospitals have raised their awareness of infection control over the previous year, using more PPE and taking more steps to stop the spread of infections, including COVID-19.
Healthcare expenses in the United States are greatly affected by HOSPITAL-ACQUIRED INFECTIONS (HAIs). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), at least one in 25 hospital patients in the United States is now battling an HAI. HAIs can result in fatalities, permanent physical harm, increased healthcare costs, and more than just additional expenses.
What exactly is infection control, and why is it crucial in hospitals? In this post, we will be discussing this matter and what you can do to help reduce the spread of infection in the facility.
What are healthcare-associated infections?
A disease known as an infection is one brought on by microorganisms like bacteria, viruses, fungi, or parasites. These microbes are also known as “bugs” or “germs.”
Infections known as healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) are contracted by patients while they are receiving care in a healthcare facility, such as a hospital, GP office, nursing home, or even at home. The most frequent cause of HAIs is bacteria.
HAIs cost the patient and the community money because they:
- a disease affecting the patient
- a prolonged hospital stay
- a lengthier period of recovery
- costs related to a longer hospital stay and a longer healing period
All healthcare facilities should have infection control protocols and policies, and workers should take every effort to avoid spreading infection. But there will always be a small chance of contracting an illness, and some people are more likely than others to do so.
Many types of infection can be picked up during healthcare including wounds, bloodstream, urinary tract and chest infections.
You can take steps to lower your risk of contracting an infection both before and during treatment.
Risk of infections related to healthcare
Everyone who is admitted to the hospital has some risk of getting an HAI. You run a higher danger if you’re seriously ill or have recently had surgery. Those who are more at risk than others include:
- preterm infants
- really ill children
- older individuals
- old people
- individuals with specific medical issues, like diabetes
- people with low immunity, such as those whose immune systems are compromised by diseases or those undergoing chemotherapy or steroid therapy
What is infection control?
According to the CDC, infection control procedures are steps taken to stop or prevent the transmission of illnesses in a hospital environment. Measures for infection control and prevention aid in making the hospital setting as secure as feasible for patients and employees. These strategies comprise an analysis of the transmission and prevention of illnesses as well as more specific suggestions for identified pathogens.
What are the standard precautions for infection control?
- Hand washing
Even though it seems easy, regularly washing one’s hands is one of the most important infection control precautions that all healthcare workers must follow.
5 crucial times for hand hygiene are outlined by WHO:
- To avoid contacting the sufferer
- Before beginning the clean/aseptic procedure
- with any danger of exposure to body fluids
- Having finished with the patient
- After interacting with the area around the patient
- Environmental protection and safety management
The setting for patients and medical personnel must be secure for practice. Even if space appears clean, surfaces can harbour a wide variety of harmful microorganisms. These infections can live in a variety of locations, including door knobs, rails, tables, etc.
Therefore, it is crucial to disinfect these high-risk touchpoints. It is crucial to use the right cleaning supplies and disinfectants when cleaning. Every facility should have stringent cleaning procedures, and healthcare staff should be aware of the schedules and duties for disinfecting and cleaning the area.
Without dependable and redundant steam power, hospitals and other healthcare institutions cannot operate. From the operation rooms and patient wards to the cafeteria cooks and laundry facilities, the institution must maintain its heating system, humidity levels, and sterilisation efforts. This is why it’s important for hospitals to have their own commercial steam boiler.
- Placing and evaluating infection
All patients must undergo an infection risk assessment before admission and periodically while receiving care. This will assist in guiding therapy choices.
Patients who could pose a specific risk of cross-infection include:
- patients who come with vomiting or diarrhoea
- those who have an enigmatic fever
- patients are known to have tested positive for a multidrug-resistant organism in the past
- public Health Agency lists fever, a new persistent cough, and loss of taste or smell as the main symptoms of COVID identification
- Safe equipment management
Any device you bring into the healthcare institution must be appropriate for its intended use and suited for that purpose. If at all feasible, make sure the staff is well-trained in the safe use of the equipment and that it comes with a solid service package.
Another known source of cross-infection is equipment. For instance, Oxford University Hospital linked their contact axilla thermometers to an epidemic of hospital-acquired infection in Canada Auris.
With technological advancements, it is advised to check that any new hospital equipment is optimised for infection control and prevention.
Does it stop hazardous waste from being produced? Reduces contact, then? If it is going to be used on several patients, is it simple to clean and decontaminate?
- Safe linen management
It’s important to stop the spread of illnesses when keeping or discarding linen. Make sure all clean linen is kept apart from any soiled or contaminated things in a designated area.
Make sure there is a laundry holder nearby the location the linen has been used for any used or filthy linen. The movement of any potential pollutants will be lessened as a result.
Any contagious or contaminated linen needs to be put right away in a water-soluble bag, locked, and marked. Before being taken out of the ward, any contaminated linen must be kept in a special secure location.
- Personal Protective Equipment
Due to the pandemic, PPE has become a major topic of discussion this year. It lessens the likelihood of an infection spreading. Healthcare professionals should wear personal protective equipment to shield themselves from dangerous pathogen exposure.
According to government regulations, all PPE must:
- kept tidy and near the point of usage.
- used only once unless the manufacturer specifies otherwise
- if reusable, PPE is completely sanitised after every use.
- within the time limit
- modified right away following each patient
- used appropriately
- disposed of if damaged or polluted
- Cough and respiratory hygiene
Aiming to lower the danger of cross-transmission of various respiratory illnesses and viruses like influenzas or COVID-19, good respiratory and cough hygiene practises.
- If you’re coughing, blowing your nose, or wiping it with disposable tissues, cover your mouth and nose.
- Following use, throw away the tissue
- After, make sure to wash your hands.
Healthcare practitioners should advise patients to maintain good respiratory and cough hygiene as well as practise it themselves. Make sure there are handwashing stations, tissues, and plastic bags for the spent tissues.
- Safe handling of body fluids and blood
Healthcare facilities must make sure that all staff members have received the proper training on how to clean up spills of blood or other body fluids.
These spills need to be cleaned up very away since they could spread blood-borne infections like Hepatitis or HIV.
Each location will clearly define who is in charge of cleaning up any blood or bodily fluid spills. Having quick access to blood or bodily fluid spill kit is advised.
- Safe waste disposal
There are many distinct types of garbage at hospitals, including household waste (commonplace trash), contaminated waste (swabs, probe covers, dressings, etc.), and high-risk hazardous waste (sharps, medical devices etc.)
The garbage will probably need to be segregated. It is crucial to adhere to the regulations set forth by your facility for the correct separation of this trash.
- Workplace safety
Occupational safety refers to the measures taken to lower the risk of infection due to exposure at work. This might result from a variety of biological, chemical, or physical exposures, which are divided into the following categories. Particular care must be used by workers when handling sharp objects.