The purpose of a hospital is to make people feel better than when they were admitted. However, this can really put a crimp in things if you develop a hospital acquired infection. That is why there are infection control plans in place to ensure that this does not happen. In fact, many medical facilities these days appoint one or more people to govern and oversee infection control.
Infection control encompasses the procedures and corresponding policies employed to reduce the threat of spreading infections, particularly in clinical, medical or health care settings. The main goal is minimizing the incidences of infectious diseases. Most diseases are bacterial or viral in origin and are spread in a variety of ways.
Infection control looks at how the infection was spread such as human to human contact or airborne transportation through the spread of droplets like in coughing or sneezing. In addition, animal to human contact is a possibility as well as human contact with an infectious surface. Of course, water and food are additional ways that infection is spread. Infection control officers study all possible scenarios.
The Reason for Infection Control in Health Care
Nosocomial infections aka hospital acquired infections happen every day and it is estimate that up to 10 % of all hospital patients acquire a secondary infection from their stay. Some patients are more susceptible to infection and have weak immune systems. In addition, certain medical practices or lack thereof contribute to the increase of infection as well.
Because of highly infectious bacteria like staph, there has been an increase in infection control measures. Antibiotic resistance can be a contributing factor as well. That is why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have continually modified a set of guidelines that all infection control departments in health care setting should follow to reduce infection problems.
New diseases are being discovered all the time as well as hardier strains of existing bacteria and viruses which means that infection control departments have to be particularly diligent at all times, examining everything from the check-in of a patient to quality control in the cafeteria to proper sterilization techniques for the equipment. No stone is left unturned in the pursuit of determining the causes of nosocomial infections.
Other things that infection control departments look at include: ventilation systems, new medical equipment which could reduce infection, proper handling of contaminated sheets, hand washing and hygiene measures, proper masking and gowning and even developing continuing education materials about infection that can be distributed to the public as well as the staff.
Infection control is not just practiced in hospitals; it is practiced in any health care facility. This includes dental offices, animal shelters, laboratories, school settings, doctor offices and even nursing homes. Any location where some type of medical care is given should have infection control measures in place.
The job of an infection control officer or department can be quite thankless. There are countless details to know and implement so continuing education for a person or people in that position is ongoing. It pays off to be diligent when it comes to learning about new strains or outbreaks as well as revolutionary tools and treatments to stave off infection.
Image: Barbara Bellingham, Wellcome Images