More than half of hospital-acquired infections are considered preventable. Although many hospitals set out to tackle this problem by implementing certain infection prevention and control strategies, infection continues to be a significant issue for hospitals. Despite the efforts of staff in following infection procedures, it is difficult to completely stop infection spread. In American hospitals alone, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) account for an estimated 1.7 million infections and 99,000 associated deaths each year.
The cost to the U.S. healthcare system of HAI’s is estimated at $9.8 billion each year.
How To Choose An Optimal Infection Control Strategy
An infection control strategy is a blanket term for a range of actions aimed at preventing or stopping the spread of infections within a healthcare setting. Infection Prevention and Control measures help ensure the hospital environment is as safe as possible for both patients and staff. Here are 4 key infection control strategies to reduce infection spread.
1. Continually Educate Staff
Educated staff are the key to successful infection control, without their correct implementation infection control procedures cannot work. Staff must adhere to essential infection prevention and control (IPC) procedures at all times given the persistence of disease spread.
In order to achieve the desired IPC actions staff must understand the impact of IPC practice, they should be aware of policies and procedures laid out as part of this practice, and this must be supported by mandatory training sessions.
To maintain staff understanding and awareness training should be given upon appointment to the role and on a continual basis covering standard infection control precautions.
2. Hold Regular Audits
Conducting regular clinical audits ensures best practice is being implemented throughout. This can be focused on compliance with infection control precautions by staff such as hand hygiene or equipment cleanliness.
The John Radcliffe Oxford University hospital ICU ward, experienced an outbreak of Candida auris which infected 70 patients. The source was later traced back to the axilla thermometer probes and highlights the need for correct cleaning of devices. Alternatively, many hospitals are looking to remove contact by switching to non-contact technology, such as TRITEMP™
3. Set Clear Processes and Policies
Having clear processes that form IPC policies is at the heart of infection control strategy. The Health and Social Care Act 2008: Code of Practice on the Prevention and Control of Infections and Related Guidance sets out the responsibilities of hospitals in England to prevent and control HAIs. It sets out the 10 criteria against which a registered provider will be judged on how it complies with the registration requirements related to cleanliness and infection prevention.
Each hospital or Trust will have their own policies and processes that staff must follow, and it’s important that these are widely understood by all staff.
4. Create a Cleanliness Culture
Building a culture with infection control front of mind allows for the processes and policies to be followed more easily, and helps deliver against the overall infection strategy. By building a clean culture staff are aware of the benefits infection control brings.
Leadership must champion infection control at every level to ensure HAI goals and objectives are achieved.
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Standard Infection Control Precautions are the minimum infection prevention practices that apply to all patient care, regardless of suspected or confirmed infection status of the patient, in any setting where healthcare is delivered.
More than half of Hospital Acquired Infections are considered preventable. Following standard infection control precautions strictly will help minimise infection spread and improve infection control. Hospitals can also look to move to more innovative technology which offers ‘non-contact’. If you remove contact, you remove infection risk.