7 Things You Must Know About Infection Control in Hospitals

Bacteria, virus and germs, some of which are capable of causing deadly diseases in human beings, find it very easy to survive in our bodies. Human bodies provide them the right temperature, water and fluids in the various organs and food in our blood. Not only do they harm the host bodies but they also get transmitted, leaving more people sick. For instance, a sneeze can transmit germs into the air at a great speed, thus spreading the infection at a greater speed. Every time we touch a baby or a patient without washing hands, we are transferring all our microbes to them.

A discipline should be in place which mandates on the precautionary measures one has to take to control the spread of infections. Infection Control is a set of rules and guidelines which are in place in every hospital, clinic and health care facility. While the heath care and medical staff is required to religiously follow the guidelines, it is important for all of us to follow them as it is only beneficial. Here are a list of 7 things you must know about infection control in hospitals.

• Why is infection control important?
In hospitals, there are sick people, patients who are on the path of recovery, newborns and many others who require medical assistance. They are at a risk of contracting infections from the other sick patients, visitors and guests. They need to be provided a highly sterile environment, free from germs and microbes, which will facilitate their recovery.

• Who is at a high risk of contacting infections?
Patients, newborns, sick adults, people suffering from diabetes, patients recovering from surgery, patients on antibiotics, patients who require special care and others in the hospital who have come there to recover.

• Who else is at a risk?
Doctors, nurses, support medical staff, visitors, hospital staff and all those who may visit the hospital are at a risk.

• How do infections spread?
Infections may spread by direct contact like touching an open wound without protection or unwashed hands or indirect contact like touching something infected. They may also be airborne when the microbes may be transferred through sneeze and cough.

• How can one prevent the spread of infection?
By practicing the infection control, the transmission of infection can be reduced.

• When and how should you wash your hands?
Hand wash should be done for at least 15 seconds with a disinfectant and water. Hands should be washed before and after meeting with the patient and after sneezing, using the toilet, or blowing your nose. You must also wash hands before and after handling food items and handling dirty items.

• How else can you prevent infections?
Take good care of the sick person. Sterilize their towels, crockery and other items of their use. If you suspect some infections or sickness, refrain from visiting the hospital as it may put the health of the other patients also in danger. Do not leave food in the open for it may attract flies. Be cautious while gifting for flowers and plants may trigger infections in some patients.

With proper care and hygiene, infections and health problems can be kept at a bay and the patients can recover quickly. Infection control as a discipline helps maintain personal hygiene which can benefit your family and loved ones.

Are Government Targets Undermining the Fight Against Hospital Superbugs?

One of the leading clinical organisations has accused the government of putting targets before patients in a damning report published recently. The British Medical Association’s Board of Science has said that patients are being put at risk from hospital bugs such as MRSA and C. difficile because of political targets. Pressure to treat too many patients too quickly and keep beds occupied leaves little time for proper cleaning, according the BMA’s report.

The report shows the UK second in an international league of hospital infections – just behind Sweden – although the numbers are gradually coming down. However, recent figures seem to back the BMA’s report, showing that although down dramatically on last year’s figures, numbers of MRSA and C. difficile infections are creeping back up. The claim is that government policy is putting patients in danger because there is neither enough time nor resources to ensure that deep cleaning methods are effectively employed on a regular basis. The report says that short-term solutions are backed by little or no evidence that the methods actually work and that longer-term strategies are needed to ensure the safety of all patients at risk of contracting superbug infections.

Doctors are unanimous in their support for the call for longer term measures to combat the spread of MRSA and C difficile, but are increasingly concerned that hospital targets are getting in the way of devising an effective strategy that will be applicable across the NHS. A ‘belt and braces’ approach to clinical hygiene by medical staff (both washing hands with soap and water followed by the use of an alcohol gel) is a fundamental aspect of that process.

The problem is that it only takes one incident of a member of staff or, more likely, a visitor to the ward forgetting that process for the infection to claim another victim. Deep cleaning of hospital wards is considered to be reasonably effective but only if all the other measures are put in place as well and it is part of a package of preventative measures, carried out religiously and to the highest possible standards. The worry is that the need to meet targets may undermine the good intentions that pave the way to superbug eradication.

The principle aspect of medical negligence claims is not just to provide compensation to victims of what can be regarded as lapses in the normally high standards set in the NHS. They are also an essential way of highlighting errors and aspects of the running of a unit that may have led to a failure in the duty of care towards patients. It is through repeated exposure to the truth of the situation that has helped prompt the NHS and health authorities to take measures to combat the spread of MRSA. It now seems that the health professionals on the front line feel hampered by pressure to meet targets rather than ensuring that every possible measure is taken to protect the vulnerable from superbugs.

A 1999 study found that infected patients stayed in hospital for an additional 11 days, costing the NHS an extra £3,000 per person in additional treatment. Add to this the mounting costs of patients suing the NHS and it is obvious that this money would be better used in a concerted and co-ordinated effort to produce a long-term solution. Medical negligence cases are spotlights on the failings within a system that is battling hard to provide patients with the best possible care. If they are being scuppered by accountant’s calculators and increased pressure to meet government targets that take no account of the underlying price both to patients well being and the cost of maintaining a clean environment, then the battle against the superbugs has a new enemy – the state itself.