How Reducing Contact Can Improve Infection Spread

The Relationship Between Contact and Infection Spread

Contact provides a vehicle for infection to spread from one host to another, it’s estimated that 8 out of 10 infectious diseases are transmit through touch[1]. Infections can impact a hospital quickly if effective infection control measures are not in place. COVID-19 is a prime example of how infection can get out of control. This is why infection prevention and control teams are implemented in hospitals, due to the possibility of an outbreak, new initiatives must be implemented to reduce the potential of an outbreak; 1 in 8 COVID-19 infections were acquired in hospital[2].

Infection control in hospitals prevents or stops the spread of infections in healthcare settings[3]. They provide an essential barrier to ensure the safety of patients and staff within hospitals in an attempt to break the cycle of infection spread. There are set infection control precautions set by hospitals[4] in order to minimise infection spread and protect both patients and hospital staff.

Hospital-Acquired Infections and Contact

According to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, Hospital-Acquired Infections (HAIs),are acquired by patients during their stay in a hospital or another healthcare setting[5]. HAIs pose a significant threat to healthcare, hence the importance of Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) teams. The main form of infection spread is through contact: transmission via contact with patients, contact with devices, contaminated surfaces, etc.

Reports indicate that at any one time more than 1.4 million people worldwide are estimated to suffer from infections acquired in hospitals. Due to an increase in invasive procedures and a growing resistance to antibiotics, HAIs have increased by 36% in the last 20 years and are consuming more healthcare resources each year[6].

Infection Spread Case Study

One example of infection spreading through contact is a case study from the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, England where there was an outbreak of Candida Auris in an ICU where 70 patients were infected[7]. Candida Auris is a multi-drug resistant fungal pathogen recently associated with outbreaks worldwide which can enter the bloodstream and cause serious infection.

They found that Candida Auris was rarely detected in the general environment; there was no trace of the organism on surfaces within the unit and only 1 out of 16 air samples was positive. However, the disease was found on the axilla thermometer temperature probes which allowed the infection to spread between patients.

One step taken by the hospital to eradicate this and improve IC in future was to remove all of the contact thermometers and implement TRITEMP™, a clinical grade non-contact thermometer designed to complement infection control policies in hospitals.

Reducing Infection Spread

Hospitals can reduce infection through adopting and enforcing a strong infection prevention and control policy. Part of this will contain strategy around devices used within the hospital. Post COVID-19 pandemic, we have learnt the value of infection control, devices which reduce contact with the patient will be better for reducing infection spread. Non-invasive medical devices such as TRITEMP™ non-contact thermometer can help protect staff and provide better overall patient care.

According to a study by the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust, 92% of nurses say that TRITEMP™ will help reduce infection on their ward. Optimal infection control allows healthcare professionals to do what they do best without overhanging concern for their health: to care for their patients.

What Are Ways to Reduce Infection Spread?

There are set infection control precautions set by hospitals in order to minimise infection spread and protect both patients and hospital staff, reducing contact can also reduce infection spread as contact transmission counts for 80% of infection spread.

What Is a Hospital-Acquired Infection?

Hospital-Acquired Infections (HAIs), also known as Healthcare-Associated Infections, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, are infections acquired by patients during their stay in a hospital or another healthcare setting.

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