9 Strategies for Infection Prevention and Control
The recent onset of a pandemic has taught humanity an important lesson. Without effective infection prevention and control strategies, the spread of a deadly infection can become impossible to handle, ending in a pandemic or an endemic. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one out of every twenty hospitalized patients will succumb to a healthcare-associated infection. However, there are many ways to control the spread of these infections. From hand cleanliness to the team-oriented strategy of Comprehensive Unit-based Safety Programs, several easy and cost-effective measures can help avoid infections.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), infection prevention and control (IPC) is a scientific method and practical solution to reduce infection-related damage to patients and health professionals. Although it is a subset of epidemiology, it is also important in infectious illnesses, social sciences, and global health.
Effective IPC is a public health problem that is critical for patient safety as well as the improvement of health care systems. Effective IPC interventions are fundamental for preventing healthcare-associated infections (HAI), epidemics, and pandemics of the international importance of synonyms.
How to Diagnose a Possible Infection Hazard?
Before implementing effective infection control and prevention strategies, the biggest challenge for any medical facility and health officials is to detect potential areas with high infection rates or environmental conditions leading to the onset and spread of the disease.
We know medical staff help control the infection through timely diagnosis and treatment. However, a public health official such as an epidemiologist can collect, analyze, interpret, and disseminate data related to various health issues. These issues include endemic communicable diseases, non-communicable infectious diseases, injuries, environmental health, and other health problems. The data an epidemiologist gathers helps them find the origin of pathogens and send this information to healthcare organizations and public health services so they can make informed decisions regarding disease policy and develop healthcare awareness programs that focus on infection prevention and control.
Strategies for the Prevention and Control of Infection
Infectious agents transferred during healthcare delivery are generally transmitted by humans, including patients, healthcare workers, and visitors. Infection management is a matter of health and safety. Everyone in the healthcare system is accountable for providing a safe environment for patients and employees. Infection prevention and control procedures should be in place to decrease infection transmission as much as possible. Here are a few IPC strategies all health care centers should enforce:
Observing Hand Hygiene
Hand washing should be the foundation of any effort to reduce Healthcare-Associated Infections (HAIs). It is the most basic technique for avoiding the transmission of illnesses and should be included in the organization’s culture.
Hands should be washed with warm water and soap for 20 seconds. All facility personnel and visitors should wash their hands before drinking, eating, delivering care, and caring for patients. Surgical team members should wash their arms and forearms and wear sterile gloves before an operation. Health care specialists advocate the “Clean In, Clean Out” strategy, in which hands and equipment are cleansed and disinfected on the way into the patient’s room and again on the way out.
Regular Use of Disinfectants
Every room in a facility should be properly cleaned between patients using those healthcare-grade disinfectants that medical authorities have approved—this aids in preventing infection transmission when new patients are admitted. Non-patient facilities, such as the breakroom and nurses’ station, should also be cleaned regularly. Disinfectants are primarily used to remove or considerably decrease microbial pathogens, preventing disease and sickness transmission. In this way, the transmission of infections is curbed.
Patient Screening and Cohorting
Patients should be constantly screened as part of the preoperative health evaluation procedure. These people must be treated before undergoing surgery or any other operation. On the other hand, patients suffering from the same ailment or infection must be isolated together in a specified area. This is critical to preventing cross infections. Infections can readily pass on from one patient to another if treated in the same location, by the same staff, and with the same patient care equipment. Certain disease-causing pathogens are even airborne. Organizations must assess if their personnel is following particular guidelines for certain illnesses. Otherwise, it will become increasingly difficult to control the infection.
Observing Environmental Hygiene
Environmental surfaces or surfaces exposed to an unsterilized environment are common sources of infection transmission. Certain microscopic germs can survive on such surfaces for months at a time. Bacteria can spread and infect when healthcare personnel or patients touch these surfaces with their skin. As a result, it is important that the environment is maintained clean and remains disinfected. Including interdisciplinary environmental hygiene teams in talks about infection prevention strategies is also a mandatory step. Meeting with environmental services and exchanging in-house monitoring data enables these teams to link housekeeping activities to illness transmission, and this, in return, also promotes and maintains environmental hygiene.
Use of Vaccinations
A healthcare organization’s workforce can occasionally be the source of transmission of some illnesses. When such personnel comes in contact with patients who have various ailments, they can also get infections. As a result, companies must ensure that vaccines against such contagious infections are given to their employees on time. It reduces the risk of transmission to coworkers and patients and proves to be rewarding for the entire organization.
Use Proper Personal Protection Equipment (PPE)
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is a collection of devices you might wear to protect yourself from various dangerous environments. Personal protection equipment (PPE) such as gowns, gloves, masks, and face shields should be readily available for use by employees. PPE is vital because it prepares you for potential health and safety hazards and provides additional protection in the case of an accident or against the elements.
Antibiotic abuse and overuse can put patients at risk of getting recurring illnesses. Antibiotics treat bacterial infections by assisting the body’s natural defense mechanism in eliminating the disease-causing bacterial pathogen. They are intended to either kill or prevent germs from multiplying. However, inadequate antibiotic usage, over-prescribing, and pathogenic mutation have created resistant pathogens. Inappropriate antibiotic usage can potentially lead to medication resistance in patients. If such people become infected, treating them becomes more difficult, and the chance of the pathogen’s spread increases.
Provide Infection Control Awareness
Employees must be able to recognize common illnesses and prevent their spread. Furthermore, your company should give ongoing, recurrent infection control education. This covers blood-borne pathogens and droplet-borne infection training. With adequate training and education, the health care staff can help create a potentially infection-free environment for themselves and the patients.
Use of Gloves
When treating patients, health care personnel may not always wear gloves. Certain body fluids, such as blood and semen, can be highly contagious, and bare contact with such fluids is risky for health personnel and patients. Contact with such fluids without protective equipment, like surgical or latex gloves, can facilitate the spread of infections. This makes the entire health care center a bio-hazard zone. That is why gloves should be used whenever any contact with blood or body fluids is conceivable, such as while changing bedding or emptying the garbage.
It is essential to control the spread of infections to ensure a safe environment for the entire health organization. By implementing these strategies, medical health facilities and public health organizations can control widespread deadly infections and ensure public health.