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Infection Control in Hospitals

On analyzing the disease pattern in India, it was found that the infections acquired at hospitals were more in India than in the other Western countries. Hospital-acquired infections in India have a rate of 1 for every 4 hospital visits and this is an alarming figure. This demands the need for strict hospital infection prevention and control.

Every hospital is trying to devise strategies for infection control and the hospital operations management is trying to outline an infection control program. Here is an overview of some of the strategies for infection control followed by Indian hospitals based on the guidelines of the WHO.

Strategies for infection control at a hospital
  1. Institute standard hygiene precautions at the hospital.
  2. Outline additional infection control precautions to be implemented immediately.
  3. Educate and train the hospital staff on hospital infection prevention and control.
  4. Provide hospital staff with disposable gloves and masks and with sterilized surgical clothing and equipment.
  5. Vaccinate the hospital staff in advance if necessary to prevent incumbent infections.
  6. Protect the hospital environ from infections by implementing aseptic techniques for hospital hygiene.
  7. Insist on using single-use clinical supplies like syringes, gloves, gowns, bandages, etc.,
  8. Install an incinerator to dispose of the toxic medical waste that could cause hospital infection.
  9. Insist on complete sterilization of patient beds, hospital wards, surgical instruments and equipment after each use.
  10. Set clear standards for proper usage of antibiotics and precautions for exposure to body fluids.
  11. Train hospital staff on the proper handling of body fluids and hospital waste to avoid contamination and hospital infection.
  12. Monitor the hygiene routine continuously and set trigger alarms for non-compliance.
  13. Have a backup plan ready to counter any hospital infection that might arie in spite of all these precautions.
10 steps to achieving hospital infection prevention and control
1. Washing hands
The first step in hospital infection prevention and control is to wash hands. WHO recommends washing hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds before eating, drinking, and caring for patients. All hospital staff must be encouraged to follow this washing procedure before handling patients.

2. Institute an Infection control policy for the hospital
The Infection Control Policy is a contingency plan that every hospital must enforce to achieve hospital infection prevention and control. To do this, enlighten staff on which kind of patients could easily acquire and transmit hospital infection. Outline the precautions to be taken to prevent such occurrences. Elaborate on the isolation, quarantine and emergency procedures necessary to prevent the infections from spreading to the hospital staff and other patients.

3. Always check for quick hospital infections and exterminate the cause immediately
Certain hospital infections can occur and spread within the fraction of the eye. For instance, Clostridium difficile is a bacteria which is a rapid hospital contagion. Always check for this c.diff infection in diarrhoea patients and try to curb it immediately. One other such hospital contagion is the Flu virus which should be controlled ASAP a part of the hospital infection prevention and control.

4. Train staff regularly on infection control
Continuous education and training is a must for the hospital staff to be aware and on guard about the prevalent hospital infections. New epidemics are on the rise like Lassa Fever, Rift Valley Fever, Dengue, etc. The hospital staff must be educated on the symptoms and taught the precautions to handle such blood-pathogen infections or droplet-borne epidemics with readiness.

5. Insist on the compulsory use of gloves
Instruct all hospital staff to use disposable gloves while interacting with patients to avoid contact with infected body fluids.  Gloves must be used even by the sanitation workers at the hospital while changing sheets, cleaning beds, emptying trash and sterilizing equipment. This is the simplest and most effective way to achieve hospital infection prevention and control.

6. Provide protective equipment to all the hospital staff
Protecting the hospital staff is the first priority to prevent the spread of hospital infections. Provide gloves, mask, shoe covers, face shields disposable waterproof gowns, etc for all the physician, nursing and sanitation workers at the hospital. Have isolation equipment ready to quarantine patients with contagious illnesses.

7. Insist on daily disinfection of the hospital premises
Ensure that all hospital premises including the nurse station, elevators, and reception desks are cleaned daily with a powerful disinfectant.

8. Wash and sterilize linens daily
All the linen at the hospital used by patients, nurses and surgeons must be washed and sterilized daily. Any cloth that falls on the floor must be immediately washed.

9. Prohibit patients from walking barefoot in the hospital
Provide disposable footwear to patients and insist that they do not go barefoot at the hospital in order to prevent infections.

10. Serve hot and hygienic meal for patients

Serve hot meals to patients and ensure that they eat them immediately. Dispose of uneaten food kept aside for several hours to prevent spoilage.

It is the foremost duty of every hospital to implement such hospital infection prevention and control measures as a part of their service to society.

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