Talking About Infection Control and How To Prevent Infection Transmission…
Effective infection prevention and control practices can reduce the risk of infection transmission between patients, healthcare workers and others in the healthcare environment; they are an essential component of safe, quality health care.
Infection prevention and control aims to reduce the risk of patients acquiring preventable healthcare-associated infections. Infectious agents transmitted during the provision of health care come primarily from interaction with other people – patients, clinicians and visitors.
A successful infection prevention and control program requires prompt identification of individuals presenting with, or with risk factors for, infection or colonisation. This may be in relation to an organism of local, national or global significance, where the need to put in place appropriate measures to prevent the spread of the infectious agent to other individuals, is essential.
Why Is Infection Prevention And Control Important?
Infection can occur when pathogens (‘germs’) such as bacteria, viruses, protozoa or fungi get into or onto the body. Every year, a large number of Australians suffer from infections which require medical attention. Infection prevention and control practices aim to prevent and/or stop the spread of disease-causing germs to others.
Australian Guidelines for the Prevention and Control of Infection in Healthcare (2019)
“There are over 165,000 healthcare associated infections in Australian acute healthcare facilities every year. This makes healthcare associated infections the most common complication affecting patients in hospital.”
There are over 165,000 healthcare associated infections in Australian acute healthcare facilities every year. This makes healthcare associated infections the most common complication affecting patients in hospital. But this problem does not just affect patients and workers in hospitals — healthcare associated infections can occur in any healthcare setting, including office-based practices (e.g. general practice clinics, dental clinics, community health facilities), the setting in which paramedics work and long-term care facilities.
Effective infection prevention and control is central to providing high quality healthcare for patients and a safe working environment for those who work in healthcare settings. The Australian Guidelines for the Prevention and Control of Infection in Healthcare provide evidence-based recommendations that outline the critical aspects of infection prevention and control, focusing on core principles and priority areas for action.
The guidelines are for use by all working in healthcare – including healthcare workers, management and support staff. They provide a risk-management framework to ensure the basic principles of infection prevention and control can be applied to a wide range of healthcare settings. The level of risk may differ in different types of healthcare facilities; risk assessments are encouraged as part of the decision making and use of guideline recommendations.
When implementing these recommendations all healthcare facilities need to consider the risk of transmission of infection and implement according to their specific setting and circumstances.
The Infection Control Guidelines Advisory Committee (ICGAC) provided expertise during the guideline development process.
Healthcare-Associated Infection Is Preventable
HAIs are infections acquired as a direct or indirect result of healthcare. In Australian acute healthcare facilities, there are around 165,000 HAIs each year. This makes HAIs the most common complication affecting patients in hospital. HAIs can occur in any healthcare setting, including office-based practices (e.g. general practice clinics, dental clinics, community health facilities), the settings in which paramedics work and long-term care facilities.
These infections are caused by infectious agents such as bacteria and viruses. They are potentially preventable adverse events rather than unpredictable complications. Any person working in or entering a healthcare facility is at risk of transmitting infection or being infected.
Effective infection prevention and control strategies can significantly reduce the incidence of HAI.
DID YOU KNOW?
What Is Clostridioides Difficile?
Clostridioides difficile, also known as C.difficile or C.diff, is bacteria that can live in your gut. It does not cause infection or disease on its own and is found in healthy people. An infection with this bacteria occurs when people’s normal gut bacteria have been changed by antibiotic treatment or by other medications. This change means that Clostridioides difficile bacteria may be able to multiply and produce toxins that cause illness, such as diarrhoea and severe inflammation of the bowel. This is when you have developed a Clostridioides difficile infection.
Some people may be ‘colonised’ with Clostridioides difficile and have no symptomatic illness.
Who Is At Risk Of Clostridioides Difficile Infection?
Patients who require long periods of treatment in a healthcare facility are most at risk of infection. The risk of infection grows when bathrooms and toilets are shared with other patients who are colonised or infected with this bacteria.
The risk of infection risk increases if you have:
- been treated with antibiotics
- undergone gastrointestinal procedures or surgery
- had a long stay in a healthcare facility or a nursing home
- a weakened immune system, such as patients in intensive care units, or in cancer or transplant wards
It is important to tell your doctor if you develop diarrhoea whilst taking antibiotics.
How Does Clostridioides Difficile Infection Spread?
In healthcare facilities, Clostridioides difficile may be passed from person to person by the hands of healthcare workers and caregivers after they have come in contact with other people colonised or infected with this bacteria. It can also be spread to people if they have touched surfaces that are contaminated with Clostridioides difficile.
What will happen when you are in a healthcare facility?
Healthcare facilities also play an important role in preventing Clostridioides difficile infections by:
- using antibiotics properly
- ensuring that their staff practice hand hygiene
- identifying and isolating patients who are colonised or infected with Clostridioides difficile
- using personal protective equipment (PPE), such as gloves and an apron or gowns, when providing personal care for patients with Clostridioides difficile
- following thorough cleaning procedures
What is Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus?
(MRSA) is a bacteria that lives on the skin or in the nose. In most cases the bacteria does not cause any harm. The term used to describe this is ‘colonisation’. However, MRSA can occasionally cause serious health problems when it transfers into some parts of the body. MRSA can cause skin infections, such as abscesses and boils, and can infect existing wounds. Sometimes MRSA may spread into the bloodstream and cause serious infections, such as sepsis.
Who Is At Risk Of A MRSA Infection?
Anyone can become infected with a MRSA infection, but people who have an increased risk of getting a MRSA infection are those who:
- have other chronic health conditions, including diabetes, dermatitis, chronic wounds or whose immune systems are immature or weakened
- have been treated with antibiotics, and have been in a healthcare facility or a nursing home
- regularly have medical equipment entering their body, such as catheters and feeding tubes
- spend time in crowded living conditions or in environments where frequent direct physical (skin to skin) contact may occur
How Does MRSA Spread?
In healthcare facilities, MRSA may be passed from person to person by the hands of healthcare workers and caregivers after they have come in contact with other people who are colonised or infected with MRSA. It can also be spread directly to people if they have touched surfaces that are contaminated with MRSA.
What Will Happen When You Are In A Healthcare Facility?
If you have a MRSA infection and are in a healthcare facility or aged care home, healthcare workers will use extra precautions to minimise the risk of spreading MRSA to other people. This might include placing you in a single room and using personal protective equipment (PPE) gloves and an apron or gowns while caring for you. To reduce the risk of spreading MRSA to other people, you may be asked to stay in your room, unless receiving tests and treatment, and avoid common areas, such as the cafeteria and gift shop.
What is Vancomycin Resistant Enterococci?
Enterococci are bacteria that live in the digestive tract (or gut) and urinary system of most people and usually do not cause illness. The term used to describe this is ‘colonisation’. However, like most bacteria, enterococci can sometimes invade other parts of the body and cause infection. Vancomycin is a very strong antibiotic often used to treat complicated infections when other antibiotics do not work. When enterococci are exposed to vancomycin, the bacteria sometimes develop ways that reduce the effectiveness of the antibiotic. This is known as resistance. This has led to the development of ‘Vancomycin Resistant Enterococci’ (VRE).
At JD Healthcare Group we have a range of Infection Control solutions including the prevention and management to ensure you are providing the best possible care for your patients.
Source: NHRC, www.safetyandquality.gov.au
Published August 12th 2021