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Posted at: Nov 3, 2018, 2:19 AM; last updated: Nov 3, 2018, 2:19 AM (IST)WELLNESS

For an infection-free zone

Hospital- acquired infections are a reality in most healthcare set-ups. These can be avoided if due precautions are taken

Dr Rommel Tickoo

Humans have always strived to find cure for various diseases caused by pathogens. Soon, medical practitioners and researchers also realised that if finding a cure was important, preventing the disease altogether was even better. Prevention of infection is one of the most crucial aspects of medical science and it takes into account many factors, ranging from surroundings, climate, quality of air and water and management of a patient’s health.

Patients head to a hospital to get their health issues sorted. However, at times, hospitals do more damage than benefit. If hygiene standards aren’t maintained, they become a source of infections. Hospital-acquired infection (HAI) afflicts a patient during the process of care in a hospital. The health issue is not present at the time of admission. It incubates only after the treatment has begun inside the hospital premises. HAIs are a global concern and can affect patients in a hospital setting where they receive care. At times, these start showing signs even after the discharge of the patient.

Prevention and control methods

HAI prevention can be achieved through simple and effective strategies:

Data collection and analysis: The first and crucial step is collection and analysis of the data of the surveillance done by infection preventionists. It helps understand the risks and infections prevailing in the hospital. Targeted surveillance is the best way to safeguard hospitals. Choosing certain areas where there could be a high risk of healthcare-associated infections is the way to go about.

Develop action plan: The next step is data communication and developing action plans with the staff. It is important that the hospital management must have a multi-disciplinary team or in-house infection-control committee for better management.

Staff education and accountability: Regular training of all the staff members of the hospital should be conducted. Medical officers, doctors, nurses and ward boys must be trained and made aware of hospital acquired infections. Workshops are important to maintain the hospital waste management (HWM) at the best possible level. For a hospital, it is imperative to put infection-control mechanisms in effect to safeguard the staff, doctors, visitors as well as the patients. Strict and detailed instructions should be issues to the entire staff about handling a new patient, admission, medicines, waste disposal and visiting hours of family.

Basic hygiene practices: Washing hands and maintaining cleanliness can go a long way in preventing various infections. In case of an existing disease, the patient should be kept in a controlled environment with limited interaction with the outside atmosphere. If a patient suffers from a contagious disease, the hospital must protect visitors from catching the disease. At the same time, it is important to give safety guidelines to staff.

No healthcare facility can be immune to infections, but with comprehensive guidelines and strict sanitary practices, the number of infection cases can be reduced effectively. Implementation of policies and action plans, education and constant vigilance along with dedicated staff efforts help keep the facility infection free. — The writer is associate director, internal medicine, Max Hospital, Saket


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