The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention states that 1 out of every 20 hospitalised patients will contract a healthcare-associated infection. However, the spread of these infections can be controlled. Some simple and cost-effective strategies can help prevent infections and ensure that the medical environment is clean and free from all pathogens.
There must be a conscious effort from everyone involved to ensure that cleanliness is a part of the everyday regime. That will ensure that even the worst pathogens and viruses don’t cause any healthcare-associated infections to patients. So, if you’re looking to improve infection controlled in a medical environment, here is what you must do.
1. The Importance of Hand Hygiene
The simplest and easiest approach to preventing the spread of infections is maintaining proper hand hygiene, and this should be incorporated into the culture of every healthcare organisation. The surgical team personnel should wash their arms and forearms before a procedure and put-on sterile gloves to ensure that they don’t carry and transmit infections to others.
The best way to ensure proper hand hygiene in a medical environment is to adopt the ‘clean in, clean out’ approach. This helps in ensuring that hands and equipment are cleaned or disinfected on the way into the patient’s room and on the way out again.
2. Looking Out for Environmental Hygiene
One of the most common sources of transmission of infections is from touching environmental surfaces in the medical environment. Certain types of microbial bacteria are capable of surviving on environmental surfaces for months at a time. When healthcare providers or patients touch these surfaces with their skin, the bacteria can be transmitted, causing infection.
Therefore, the environment must be kept clean and disinfected at all times. Patients and families are now the biggest advocates of medical safety, and they should be included in infection prevention protocols, especially for maintaining a clean and sanitary medical environment. It is also important to involve multidisciplinary environmental hygiene teams in meetings regarding adherence to infection prevention protocols.
The meeting with environmental services and sharing in-house surveillance data helps them relate housekeeping tasks with the spread of infection and helps ensure optimal environmental hygiene.
3. Screening and Cohorting Patients
Part of the preoperative health evaluation process should include a consistent screening of patients. These patients must then be treated before surgery or any other procedure. However, patients with the same disease or infection should be kept together in a designated area; this will ensure cross infections don’t happen in the medical environment.
Infections can easily spread from one patient to the next if they are being treated in the same area, with the same staff and shared patient care equipment. Some infectious agents are even airborne, and organisations must evaluate whether the staff is adhering to specific protocols for specific infections.
4. Vaccinations for All the Staff
The staff at a healthcare organisation may sometimes be the cause of the spread of infections. They come into contact with patients with different types of diseases and may contract infections as a result of the medical environment. As a result, organisations must make sure that the recommended vaccinations are being administered to the staff as recommended.
When healthcare professionals are in good health, they contribute more to healthcare organisations. It results in decreased transmission risks to co-workers and patients.
5. Complete Thorough Environmental Cleaning
Think of environmental cleaning in a medical environment as an extension of hand hygiene. When you look at the chain of infection, you know that hands pick up germs from surfaces and then those hands carry the germs to cross-contaminate other surfaces or people. Therefore, if healthcare professionals are not cleaning surfaces and only washing hands, they won’t fix the root of the problem and will keep spreading pathogens in the medical environment.
Environmental surfaces in the medical environment should be regularly disinfected as part of an established infection prevention protocol. It’s important to note that, while it is easy to identify and clean surfaces with visible soil, frequently touched surfaces that carry microorganisms should be emphasised for regular disinfection, such as medical devices including blood pressure cuffs, stethoscopes, X-ray machines, and environmental surfaces such as doorknobs, beds, and chairs.
6. Wearing Personal Protective Equipment at All Times
The CDC defines personal protective equipment as ‘wearable equipment that is intended to protect healthcare professionals from exposure to or contact with infectious agents’. In the medical environment, personal protective equipment can include gloves, gowns, face masks, goggles, and more. Personal protective equipment protects healthcare professionals from coming into contact with potentially infectious hazards like blood or bodily fluids. It also protects the patient from contracting infections through mucous membranes, non-intact skin, or other areas of the body.
As different facilities perform different procedures, personal protective equipment should be selected and stocked on an individual basis. You must also remember that hand hygiene should be performed immediately after removing any personal protective equipment.
It is important to ensure that the medical environment is free from all infections and dangerous pathogens, and that can be influenced by effective infection control. All medical professionals have a responsibility to ensure that they are not responsible for the spread and transmission of dangerous viruses in the medical environment. The measures that we have discussed above are going to help in improving infection control in a medical environment, which is why they must be followed diligently.