We all need hospitals when we are seriously ill or injured. We expect to be treated and to get better while there. We do not expect to pick up an infection while in the hospital, but that is exactly what happens at times. What can hospitals do to control the spread of infection?There are three elements to the spread of infection in a hospital setting; a source of the infecting organisms, a means of transmission, and a susceptible host. Usually an exit and entrance portal and an infectious dose of the infecting organism are also required. Knowing what these elements are can help us to stop the spread of infection.
Any hospital should treat all patients as if they were highly susceptable to infection; this practice is the primary strategy in successful infection control.
Organisms that cause infection are spread or transmitted by more than one way. There are four main routes of transmission for infection. The four routes of transmission are: Contact, Airborne, Common vehicle and Vector.
Contact is the most frequently used mode of transmission of infection. It involves direct physical transfer of organisms between one person to another person or an indirect contact by use of an inanimate object such an instrument, drinking glass or paper object like a book or magazine. Contact can also be by droplet (respiratory or oral secretions), or by invasive contact like by needle, blood or other sharp object.
Airborne transmission occurs when moisture in respiratory droplets evaporates and leaves infectious organisms suspended in the air. Dust particles can be these carriers of airborne microorganisms. TB, chickenpox and measles are transmitted by airborne.
Common vehicle transmission is how infection is transmitted via contaminated food, water, medications, devices or equipment. This mode of transmission is rare in hospital settings, but can happen if neglect is present.
Prevention and Control:
Preventing the spread of infection and controlling the procedures that are necessary are prime objectives of hospital administrators.
Hand hygiene is one of the areas that are important to control. All staff members must understand proper hand washing procedure and be responsible for compliance. This may require the use of soap and water and a proper rinse or a alcohol-based hand sanitizer. hand hygiene should be done prior to each patient care incident, as needed during the care of the patient, and after taking care of each patient. Gloves are not substitutes for good hand hygiene, but they can play an important role in reducing the risk of transmission of infection.
It is important to wear gloves whenever you need a protective barrier or to prevent gross contamination of the hands when touching blood, body fluids, secretions, excretions, and also mucous membranes. There are certain situations mandated by Occupational Safety and Hazard Administration (OSHA) that require the wearing of gloves and these situations must be adhered to strictly for the patient and staff protection. Gloves should be changed between patients and hands washed after removing of gloves.