Hospital acquired infections are a result of lack of proper hygiene maintained on part of either the hospital or the patient during the period of admission. Anyone would want to return cured and not ‘infected’, from a hospital. To prevent contraction of infections when in hospital, certain cleanliness and hygiene tips need to be followed by the hospital staff, the patient, his/her visitors and attendants. Read on to know more…
When it comes to hospitals where hundreds of patients are admitted to have their health issues treated, there are also chances of infections being present in the surroundings. These infections can spread if certain guidelines pertaining to patient hygiene and hospital cleanliness are not followed. It has been found that around 100,000 deaths are caused by secondary infections acquired in hospitals per year in the USA. The figure is alarming. This condition should prompt each one of us to understand the rules laid down for maintenance of cleanliness and hygiene in hospitals and do our bit to ensure that they are being adhered to.
What are Hospital Acquired Infections?
Hospital Acquired Infections (HAIs), also referred to as nosocomial infections, are secondary infections that occur after the patient has been treated for the health problem he/she was admitted for. These infections can be caused by microorganisms transferred from the hospital surrounding to the patient by any means. The most common causes of HAIs are unhygienic medical practices, coughing and sneezing, using unsanitary equipment, and consuming contaminated food or water. These infections can be fatal to already ill patients or can worsen their present condition. Owing to this, there are some guidelines regarding hospital acquired infection prevention that are to be followed in any medical setting. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention is one of the major governing authorities which lays down hygiene standards to be adhered to by hospital authorities. Here are some guidelines to be followed so as to prevent nosocomial infections.
How to Prevent Hospital Acquired Infections?
Proper Use and Cleaning of Supplies
Before any kind of invasive procedures like using injections are conducted, the hospital staff should make sure that the needles and syringes are new. As per medical regulations, a needle and syringe is to be used only once. Besides, all equipment to be used in the surgery or treatment should be sterilized. Nurses and other staff should use medical supplies that are new or sanitized. Hospitals should procure supplies from recognized manufacturers who adhere to hygiene standards laid down for them.
Hospital infections of the urinary track occur mostly due to improper use of catheters. Ask the doctor if the catheter is inevitably required. If it is, ask him if he can use a central line catheter, instead of a urinary-tract one. In addition, doctors should ensure that these tubes or any foreign body for that matter, doesn’t remain in the patient’s body for long.
Cleanliness of Hospitals
Sanitizing the operation theater before and after every surgery is of utmost importance in preventing spread of hospital infections. Anesthesia machines, surgical lights, electrosurgical setups, surgical tables, suction pumps, to name a few, are some of the equipment used by multiple medical personnel. These kinds of tools necessarily have to be sanitized by using Non-flammable Alcohol Vapor in Carbon Dioxide (NAV-CO2) systems and hydrogen peroxide vapor methods. Similarly, cleanliness of the hospital in general and sanitization of specific areas where patients are taken, is equally essential in order to minimize chances of hospital acquired infections.
Using Chlorhexidine Soap and Antibiotics
Using chlorhexidine soaps is another measure against the spread of infections in hospitals. During the hospital stay, patients are advised to take a shower daily using this soap. Another guard against infections is the use of antibiotics, oral or intravenous. These may be administered to patients before and after surgery, during the period for which they are most sensitive to contracting infections. Practices such as these certainly reduce the possibilities of infection.
Washing hands is one of the simplest, yet the most effective way of preventing the spread of infections. It should be practiced on part of hospital staff, both medical and housekeeping. This is applicable to patients and his/her attendants and visitors as well. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers are believed to be most effective in infection prevention in medical settings.
Wearing Hand Gloves, Mask, and Apron
Wearing infection preventive gear like hand gloves, mask, and aprons is important and should be followed by hospital staff. Gloves are important to prevent microorganisms from the hands of a medical personnel from reaching the patient. Masks prevent the spread of infections that can be transferred through air. Similarly aprons prevent the transfer of disease causing agents from the clothes of hospital staff or visitors to the patients.
These were a few main practices to be followed by the hospital management to prevent HAIs during and after treatment. The key to preventing hospital acquired infections is to maintain proper cleanliness and hygiene in the hospital.