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Infection Prevention And Control

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Infection prevention is important within healthcare settings. This is because people who come into hospital or use other healthcare services are at risk of infection. When people access these healthcare services, they are usually already ill and may be less able to tolerate infection.

An infection is the invasion and multiplication of microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses and parasites that are not normally present in the body. Some infections can cause the patient to have no symptoms whereas other infections can cause symptoms such as redness and swelling or increased and continual pain. There are 6 main types of infection. These include bacterial, viruses, fungi, protozoa, parasites and prions. Infections can spread quickly and easily. This can occur when an individual who has a bacterial infection or virus touches, kisses, coughs or sneezes on someone who is not infected. It can also spread by healthcare workers experiencing sharps injuries. This occurs when bloodborne pathogens enter a person’s body through a puncture in the skin which is caused by a used needle or sharp instrument.

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Controlling infections within a healthcare setting is vital. Hospitals and other healthcare settings go about controlling infection by educating staff on infection control. This training is mandatory which means every member of staff who requires this training needs to complete it and keep it up to date. This requires going on regular training courses to keep up to date with the recent infection prevention information. Healthcare settings also have policies in place to follow in connection to infection control. A local hospitals policy states that all patients are screened for MRSA either when admitted acutely or prior to admission for an elective procedure. They also ensure that all staff follow the `bare below the elbow` policy and make sure a trained team of staff clean all areas of the hospital daily to control the spread of infection. Alcohol handwash is also located outside every ward within the hospital for staff, patients and visitors to use before and after going onto the ward. Another vital way of controlling infection is by prescribing antibiotics. Antibiotics are used to treat or prevent infection. They work by killing bacteria or preventing them from reproducing and spreading. There are 3 main ways antibiotics can be taken. Orally, topical or injections. Oral antibiotics include tablets, capsules or a liquid that can be drunk. Topical antibiotics include creams, lotions, sprays or drops which are often used to treat skin infections. The final type is injections these can be given as an injection or a drip that goes directly into the blood or muscle. Vaccinations are also in place to control infection. A vaccine works by providing a controlled exposure to a pathogen training and strengthening the immune system so it can fight that disease quickly and effectively in the future. Vaccinations are given to babies as young as 8 weeks old and they are given a single jab that contains vaccines to protect against 6 separate diseases. These are diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, polio, haemophilus influenzae type b and hepatitis b. Vaccinations are given throughout child and adult life and are available to control and prevent infections and diseases. In most healthcare settings across the UK they have dedicated “Infection control teams”. This team has a responsibility for advising and educating staff at all levels on how to prevent and reduce cross infection in the healthcare setting. The infection control team monitors practices and standards of care and aim to control and prevent infections from spreading.

Preventing infection in healthcare settings is vital. Standard precautions are a form of infection prevention. These precautions include handwashing before and after patient contact. Handwashing can be performed with soap and water or alcohol-based gels. It is also important that drying hands after handwashing is also carried out because germs can attach themselves to damp hands and cause germs to spread more easily. Another standard precaution is care when using disposal sharps this includes disposing of sharps safely using a sharps box and the correct use of PPE (personal protective equipment) when encountering blood, bodily fluids, secretions and excretions. Personal protective equipment includes disposable gloves, aprons and masks which should be used once and disposed of correctly. A clean environment is also important for the prevention of infection because this contributes to minimizing the transmission of pathogens. The safe disposal of waste such as domestic waste and clinical waste should be disposed of correctly. Domestic waste includes household items which will either be recycled or disposed of into a landfill. These bins are usually black. Clinical waste is waste that comes from healthcare related tasks. This waste is contaminated with body fluids and personal protective equipment. These bins are usually yellow. The safe management of linen is also important to prevent infection. Isolation and Cohorting are also used to prevent infection from spreading. Isolation is where a patient is nursed in a single room to reduce the risk of the spread of pathogens. Cohorting is used when several patients who have the same infection or carrying the same organism are nursed together in the same bay. This is normally used for highly infectious conditions such as norovirus. Cohorting cannot be used when patients have different infections because this leads to a risk of cross infection. Sterilising and cleaning down all equipment used before and after patient use is also a key aspect in preventing infection. Commodes, bed frames and mattresses are a few examples of the equipment that needs to be cleaned down before and after every patient in order to reduce the risk of passing on infections. Each hospital has specific requirements that apply when it comes to disinfecting and sterilizing equipment.

Ensuring strict infection prevention and control in healthcare is essential in order to stop the development of any further spread of infection. When people pick up an infection in some cases it can be life threatening so it is vital for healthcare settings to prevent and control infections when they occur.

References

  1. Cancerresearchuk.org. (2019). Types of infections | Coping physically | Cancer Research UK. https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/aboutcancer/coping/physically/fever/causes/infection/types
  2. Delves-Yates, C. (n.d.). Essentials of nursing practice.
  3. Delves-Yates, C. (n.d.). Essential clinical skills for nurses.
  4. Dougherty, L., Lister, S. and West-Oram, A. (n.d.). The Royal Marsden manual of clinical nursing procedures.
  5. Ford, M. (2019). Infection outbreaks in care homes: prevention and management.
  6. Health.qld.gov.au. (2019). Bare below the elbows | Queensland Health. [online] Available at: https://www.health.qld.gov.au/clinical-practice/guidelines-procedures/diseases-infection/infection-prevention/standard-precautions/hand-hygiene/bare-below-elbows
  7. Kch.nhs.uk. (2019). Infection prevention and control – King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. [online]: https://www.kch.nhs.uk/about/corporate/care-standards/infection-prevention
  8. Midyorks.nhs.uk. (2019). Infection Control – The Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust. [online] https://www.midyorks.nhs.uk/keeping-our-hospitals-clean
  9. nhs.uk. (2019). Vaccinations. [online] https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/
  10. The Royal College of Nursing. (2019). Infection prevention and control | Clinical | Royal College of Nursing. [online] https://www.rcn.org.uk/clinical-topics/infection-prevention-and-control
  11. Ward, D. (2016). Microbiology and infection prevention and control for nursing students.
  12. Wilson, J. and Loveday, H. (2019). Infection Control in Clinical Practice. 3rd ed.

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Infection Prevention And Control. (2022, February 17). Edubirdie. Retrieved December 1, 2022, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/infection-prevention-and-control/
“Infection Prevention And Control.” Edubirdie, 17 Feb. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/infection-prevention-and-control/
Infection Prevention And Control. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/infection-prevention-and-control/> [Accessed 1 Dec. 2022].
Infection Prevention And Control [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Feb 17 [cited 2022 Dec 1]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/infection-prevention-and-control/
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