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This week we were asked to discuss possible causes of increased HAIs, how to handle the infection control process. Below is a quick outline of what infectious agents are, how the process works, and a quick rough policy to combat the ongoing issue:
Germs are everywhere; in the soil, air, water, and just about every surface we touch. Most germs are harmless, and are beneficial, but there are some that cause us to become ill. An infection occurs when bacteria, viruses, or another microscopic organism enters the body and causes our homeostasis to be thrown off. For an infection to occur, there must be three items present: the infectious agent, may that be a bacterium, fungus, protozoa, or parasite, a susceptible host someone who suffers from a chronic disease, immunosuppressed system, very young, or elderly, and a mode of transmission, how it moves from one host to the other, but droplet, contact, airborne, or vector (Infection Control).
Infection can be thought of as an ongoing loop with links. Each link connects to the next giving a greater opportunity for the organism to transfer from one person to the other. But first, you need an infectious agent; as stated before these could be bacteria, viruses, fungi, protozoa, or parasites. Then you need a reservoir, this could be a person, food, water, or equipment that is shared between patients such as a stethoscope, exam table, or even the railing in the wall way. Thirdly, there is a means of exit; this may be from bodily functions, coughing, sneezing or another means of exiting the body. Next the mode of transmission, how its transferred to put it simply. This can be by direct contact with an infected surface or person, from a sneeze via microscopic water droplets in the air that are expelled when you sneeze, airbornetraveling thought the air, or by a vectoran animal or insect.
Next is how it enters the body. This could be a break in the skin, the GI tract via ingestion of contaminated food, breathing in droplets, or through the mucous membranes. Normally, we ingest/ exposed to pathogens all the time, but only when our immune system is compromised, either by stress, suffer from a chronic disease, are very young, or very old are we are susceptible (Basic Principles) .
If you were to break any one of these links, the cycle breaks. That is the goal of infection control. The biggest and most simple way to prevent the spread of infection is through PROPER hand washing. Staff members should wash BEFORE and AFTER all patient contact with warm water and soap for at least 15 seconds and in-between patients with alcohol based hand sanitizers ( Show me the Science).
A quick policy to decrease the possibility for HAIs (hospital acquired infections):
-At the beginning and end of every shift, all staff members should do an aseptic hand wash. (Click link to demonstrate proper procedure)
This ensures hands are clean when arriving and departing from work reducing the chances of transmitting anything to patients or taking anything home with you.
All staff on arriving at work, go directly to designated locker room, shower and change into appropriate scrubs. If scrubs become soiled during shift, must change them as needed. Can obtain new scrubs from scrub vending machine. Scrubs would be laundered in facility separate from all other facility linens maintain infection control standards.
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