How Do Hospitals Internally Prevent The Spread Of Infections?Surbhi Dixit
Hospitals deal with infected individuals every day. This makes it imperative to sanitize the facility down to the last inch and practice robust safety measures to ensure that the staff and employees- even the visiting individuals- aren’t at risk of acquiring infections nosocomially. WHO has prescribed certain guidelines to prevent the spread of disease at healthcare facilities – all institutions should make it a point to follow them.
Let’s discuss how nosocomial infections spread and what steps can be taken to prevent the spread of infections in hospitals.
Modes of Spread of Infections in Hospitals
There are five major ways a pathogen can enter a healthy individual’s body:
- Direct transmission. Coming in contact directly with an individual infected cause a transfer of pathogens that can potentially enter the body through an opening – a break in the skin, through eyes, nose, mouth, or ears.
- Fomite transmission. When potent pathogens lie dormant on inanimate surfaces and objects, which a susceptible individual then touches, fomite transmission occurs.
- Airborne transmission. When pathogens are suspended in the air, they can be potentially breathed in by healthy individuals, causing infections.
- Oral transmission. Oral contact with an infected surface or individual, consumption of contaminated food can spread infections at hospitals.
- Vector-borne transmission. Live organisms, such as insects, are capable of transporting harmful pathogens from one human to another. Dengue and malaria are perfect examples of vector transmission.
Let’s now understand how hospitals can prevent the spread of pathogens.
10 Important Steps to Prevent Internal Spread of Infections in Hospitals
WHO prescribes these precautions and safety measures for contamination containment at healthcare facilities.
1. Wash Hands
Washing hands is a proven way to get rid of most disease-causing pathogens and prevent them from entering your body or someone else’s. Since hands go around touching surfaces and infected individuals at a healthcare facility, they accumulate a load of unwanted microorganisms that could potentially make you sick. Washing hands between patient care and before eating or drinking should become a habit.
2. Put A Policy In Place
Every healthcare institution should have an infection-control policy in place. These policies help highlight the high-risk individuals and focus on containment and sanitization in and around their wards. The staff should be educated in these policies and follow-through. Creating policies for preventing the spread of infections also acts as a guideline for all staff and professionals to follow.
3. Identify Contagions
As soon as a patient is admitted, they should be tested for rapid-spread infections (like flu) based on the symptoms they display. If they test positive, the infection control policy should come into effect immediately. It is also important to keep the list of rapid-spreading pathogens updated with the latest discoveries.
4. Educate Staff and Healthcare Providers
Always put infection control education on the top-priorities list periodically to bring your staff and employees up to date with the latest safety measures and practices to follow at the institution. They must proactively follow the protocol at all times. Education on controlling the spread of infections forms the foundation of preventive procedures at an institute. This is the single most important step a healthcare facility needs to take to curb nosocomial infections at the root.
5. Encourage Using Gloves
Gloves are very effective in ensuring that pathogens exchange doesn’t occur between a healthy and an infected individual. Whatever pathogens survive hand-washing will be prevented from getting transferred by the use of medical gloves. Gloves also prevent pathogens from entering an individual’s body by acting like a protective layer between the hands and eyes/nose/mouth.
6. Always Have PPEs Ready
PPEs, or Personal Protective Equipment, are like full-body suits that prevent pathogens from coming in contact with an individual’s body or clothes and prevent them from getting deposited from the individual in clean rooms. PPEs help in keeping contagions where they are, preventing their spread. Gowns, face shields, masks, gloves, shoe covers, etc., are all counted under PPE.
7. Sanitize Spaces Regularly
Dedicate a crew to sanitizing all the frequently-touched surfaces (door handles, elevator buttons, hand-rails, desks, chairs, etc.) frequently. Ensure that the solutions used for cleaning floors, washrooms, windows, and doors of the facility are effective and easy to use. Sanitization is important to stop fomite transmission of infections.
8. Provide Slippers to All Patients
Hospitals should provide a pair of slippers to patients in addition to a gown. Walking around barefoot can have severe repercussions on recovering patients; they may end up catching new infections through the floor. Encourage all patients to bring a pair of footwear or provide one for them.
9. Always Keep The Linen Clean
Hospital linens should be changed every day and when they become soiled or dirty before the day is over. Patient beds can contain a lot of disease-causing pathogens; the linen should be thoroughly washed and sanitized before being put in use again.
10. Have a Cafeteria Hygiene Policy
The cafeteria should be spotlessly clean and thoroughly sanitized, and sealed off from the rest of the facility as best as possible. The food should be stored at appropriate temperatures, and dishes should be properly cleaned and hygienically stored.
Hospital Acquired Infections, or HAIs, are a common occurrence worldwide, although they are very controllable and preventable. Following the guidelines above will immensely help bring down the nosocomial spread of infections at your facility. Our expert consultants at RARE Hospitality & Facility Management are there to help, Contact us or give us a call to discover how we can help.