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Can infection prevention and control truly save lives? When the pandemic became a reality for us a few years ago we quickly learned the answer was a definitive yes.

Even as Covid-19 has decreased in severity, patient lives continue to be lost due to the spread of other types of infections in hospitals. There are several types of infections that can create serious health repercussions for patients and even staff.

The CDC estimates that in the US, healthcare-associated infections account for an estimated 1.7 million infections and 99,000 associated deaths each year.

Health care workers must take adequate steps to prevent infection and control the spread of infectious diseases throughout a facility. If you’re wondering what infection control is in healthcare and how facilities can curb infections, we’ve got you covered.

What is Infection Control in Healthcare?

Infection control consists of a set of steps taken to prevent or stop the transmission of communicable diseases in health care settings. The major players of infection control include: hand hygiene, PPE, disinfecting surfaces, screening and isolating patients, sharps safety, and sterile instruments and devices.

But is it enough for health care staff to simply follow guidelines? Being aware of the factors that can increase patient risk and the steps needed to reduce such risk can help staff tackle any situation that arises. Having staff that has a basic comprehension of disease epidemiology plus our infection control major players is like having a team of superheroes ready to battle disease.

What are Healthcare-Associated Infections?

We can’t fully understand and appreciate infection control in healthcare without knowing about HAI or Healthcare-Associated Infections. These infections are acquired when patients are receiving treatment, whether for surgical or medical conditions. They can occur in any setting, including doctor’s offices, hospitals, dentistries, ambulatory surgical centers, and long-term care facilities like rehabilitation centers.

On any given day, about one in 31 hospital patients has at least one healthcare-associated infection, according to the CDC. These infections lead to tens of thousands of deaths and cost the U.S. healthcare system billions of dollars each year.

Here are some of the most common HAI that healthcare organizations ought to familiarize themselves with:

Ventilator-associated pneumonia – This happens when a germ enters the tube of a ventilator and travels into a patient’s lungs while they breathe using the machine.

Urinary tract infections – This can occur if the catheter tube used to drain patients is used for an extended period of time or has other issues. All components of one’s urinary system, including bladder and kidney, can be affected.

Surgical site infection – After surgery, a patient might experience an infection which can affect the outer skin, or worse, internal organs.

Patients can be valuable additions to our disease-fighting superhero team. They should be conscious of infection risks and be integrated into the process of prevention whenever possible. Patients who enter the hospital for surgery or receive outpatient treatments can lower their risk of infection by following some simple, common-sense steps prior to going to the facility.
This includes:

Change Habits

Some steps patients can take are stopping smoking, increasing exercise to improve heart health, and controlling their blood sugar level if they have diabetes. High blood sugar has been shown to cause a noticeable uptick in infection risk.

Shave Smarter

If a patient needs hair removed before surgery, they should use electrical clippers or depilatory cream as a safer alternative to shaving. Shaving with a razor can lead to infection vulnerability due to skin abrasions and cuts.

Use Prophylactic Antibiotics

Another way to prevent healthcare-associated infections is treatment with a prophylactic antibiotic within one hour before surgery – earlier or later administration isn’t as effective as an antibiotic administered at the hour mark. Discontinuing prophylactic antibiotics within 24 hours following surgery is also important. Keeping the antibiotic administration going for a longer period can increase side effects and the possibility of antibiotic resistance.

Diligently Wash Hands

Patients should also be encouraged to wash their hands carefully and often. The skin around an intravenous catheter should be kept clean and dry, as should any dressings on a wound.

Don’t Encourage Visitors

Asking friends and relatives not to visit if ill is also crucial for infection prevention and control, as it will prevent any healthcare-associated infections from spreading to them as well.

Infection Prevention and Control with MedTrainer

At MedTrainer, we’re here to help you combat disease and comply with OSHA standards, HAI prevention compliance, and the rules and regulations set in place to protect both patients and your employees.

We have specially designed courses to help keep you and your staff up to date. Including:

Antibiotic Resistance and Stewardship: Key Considerations for Reducing HAIs and SSIs
This course explores the growing problem of antibiotic resistance, and the key considerations for ambulatory care centers (ASCs) must integrate into the care and services they provide to reduce the risk of surgical site infections (SSIs) and support the appropriate use of antibiotics.

Airborne & Droplet Disease Transmission
This course will discuss the difference between airborne and droplet transmission of diseases as well as the necessary precautions that apply to each mode of transmission.

The Role of Decolonization in the Prevention of Surgical Site Infections
This course focuses on sterilization packaging and quality assurance procedures. An overview of instrument reprocessing will be covered, the use of sterilization wraps, peel pouches, and containment devices will be examined, and required testing for sterilization and what to do in the event of a sterilization failure will be discussed.

MedTrainer can clearly define information on compliance issues that help educate, inform, and instill techniques to help reduce HAI.

Other Methods of Infection Prevention

Beyond hand cleanliness, another primary infection prevention and control process is cleaning hospital rooms and examination rooms. Environmental cleanliness means physical cleaning plus disinfection. How to monitor this process? Again education and compliance techniques available through MedTrainer can help to prevent residual bacteria. Related courses include:

High-Level Disinfection
This course focuses on the importance of compliance with best practices related to instrument reprocessing and provides an overview of the essential steps within a high-level disinfection process.

Making the Most of Your PPE Supplies
This course provides an overview of CDC guidelines regarding PPE optimization and of the purpose of the different strategies for optimizing and planning use of PPE, with a brief review of five of the most commonly utilized pieces of PPE. Proper use of the PPE Burn Rate calculator will also be discussed.

MedTrainer’s Software Can Assist You With Infection Control and More

MedTrainer offers numerous other services that can assist a healthcare organization. Our medical staff credentialing software can help streamline the enrollment process and make it much easier to keep track of documents. We also provide programs to help your healthcare organization complete and maintain certified compliance and ethics professional certifications. Reach out to MedTrainer today to learn how our collection of software can improve the efficiency of your institution’s operations!