16 Jun Infection Prevention
How hospitals are working harder to ensure infection prevention
Hospitals are working harder than ever to try and prevent infections in their facilities. In fact, the rise of hospital acquired infections has become so serious that some hospitals are at risk of being closed down. The government has issued operational guidance and standards for dealing with healthcare-associated infections.
Similar advice is being given to nursing homes.
This guidance talks about health protection teams and assessing and reducing the risk of healthcare- associated infections. What are healthcare-associated infections? Healthcare-associated infections can either be directly acquired during a surgical procedure or indirectly through contact with the environment. These infections vary widely in how they affect people but can be fatal to the most vulnerable in hospitals.
The most common healthcare-associated infections are MRSA and C.difficile. Both are potentially lethal and are resistant strains of microorganisms that are difficult to treat. Why have superbugs emerged? Superbugs have developed due to the overuse of antibiotics and inadequate cleaning agents.
Mutations have developed that are no longer treatable by standard measures.Hospitals, therefore, have to take drastic action in situations where resistant microorganisms are causing infections. Infection prevention involves a number of things on a day-to-day and regularly scheduled basis.
Everyday ways to prevent infection
In surgical wards and operating theatres healthcare professionals use the antiseptic method to maintain the sterility of instruments and materials. On hospital wards, there is sometimes the requirement for everyone entering, and exiting to wash their hands thoroughly, and an alcohol gel is made available for this purpose. In addition, in areas prone to infection visitors are encouraged not to bring in items from the outside or food, and infected patients are often quarantined in rooms.
However, all of this is insignificant if the hygiene of the environment is not up to scratch.Structured iHP Decontamination Programmes in hospitals
In recent years we have seen an increase in the use of chemicals to create a more robust hospital decontamination programme. iHP Decontamination regimes in healthcare need to go beyond the standard day-to-day cleaning and is now often outsourced to companies that offer specialist hygiene solutions, such as BioDecon. The most sensitive hospital areas where an infection is most likely to occur, including those where there are central line associated bloodstream infections, ventilator-associated pneumonia and infections, catheter-associated unary tract infections and surgical site infections, are now getting regular decontamination procedures. At BioDecon this involves clearing a room, sealing it, and experienced, highly trained engineers moving in with canisters of hydrogen peroxide to cover every surface and piece of equipment, with hydrogen peroxide vapour. This vapour is an excellent agent for destroying pathogenic microorganisms (or any microorganisms) and the method ensures every, single spot in the room is touched.
The new ways to measure sterility assurance levels
At BioDecon we work with our sister company, Protak Scientific, using enzyme indicators to measure the incidents of microorganism life after the decontamination process. Our method only takes a few minutes and enables us to run a further cycle of decontamination if the first was not entirely satisfactory. Developments like enzyme indicators are making the process in hospitals much smoother. Previously, when biological samples had to be taken and then grown in petri dishes in a laboratory it took a week to get a result. With that time reduced to a matter of hours or minutes, it is now possible to decontaminate faster, and get wards and operational areas open much quicker. This has made hospitals more receptive to the routine decontamination of key areas, such as post-operative care, operating theatres, hospital waste areas, and preoperative care. Indeed, it has also made the emergency on-call decontamination work by experts like BioDecon much more efficient.
New infection prevention protocols and procedures
As more and more hospitals partner with providers of specialist hygiene solutions, they are developing new ways to partner, ensuring the evolution of best practice, merging decontamination service protocols with hospital guidelines. Management teams now see decontamination services as an extension of their health and safety and hygiene departments, and a resource to call upon whenever they have questions or need guidance.
In turn, decontamination services that work in a number of hospitals can pass new methods of doing things between hospitals, and cross-pollinate ideas and evolving he way infection prevention is taking place in hospitals and healthcare environments. Infection prevention is indeed developing, but the task that faces healthcare management professionals is a big one. It is only through sharing of information, effective partnerships, and robust decontamination and hygiene policies that infection prevention will be kept to a minimum. Hospital-associated infections have given some hospitals a bad name, and are affecting the reputation of the NHS as a whole. At the end of the day it is down to individual hospitals, and wards, to push for the improved level of hygiene required, and to accept the disruption the process of deep cleaning and decontamination will inevitably bring.
If you want to find out more about infection prevention in hospital or healthcare settings, then get in touch with BioDecon today. Our experts are available on the phone to advise and guide you on anything you need to know and provide you with ideas for your hospital infection prevention strategy. If you have an emergency situation that needs action, then call our emergency infection decontamination team today on 01904 405959.