The Importance of Infection Control
Each year in hospitals all over the world lives are lost because of the spread of infections. There are steps that healthcare workers can take to help control the spread of these infections.
One of the most important steps anyone in the health care profession can take to prevent the spread of infection is to properly wash their hands in between patients. Proper hand washing is the most effective way to stop the spread of infection from one patient to another. It is also important that anyone staff member or visitor wash their hands before entering a patient's room and after leaving the room.
There are other steps healthcare workers can take to prevent infection from spreading in hospitals:
Cover mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing
Keeping up-to-date with their immunizations
Properly using gloves, masks and other protective clothing when necessary
Keeping adequate supply of tissues and hand cleansers such as alcohol-based gels in patient care areas
Making sure they are following hospital guidelines when dealing with blood or contaminated items
Infectious diseases are caused by microscopic organisms that include: bacteria, viruses, fungi and animal parasites. These organisms penetrate the body's natural barriers and multiply to create the symptoms of disease. These symptoms can range from mild to deadly. Some infections affect the entire body while other are localized in one organ or area of the body. One way to control infection is to identify the source of the microscopic organisms and to learn how to control the source or to eradicate the spreading of the organisms from that source.
Another way to control infection is to control the mode of transmission from one person to another. Some infections are transmitted by contact (skin to skin) while others are airborne transmission. Still others are transmitted through contact with body fluids like blood, saliva or other body fluids. Bites from vectors such as ticks and mosquitoes can transmit organisms. Sexual contact and transmission from mothers to their unborn babies are another mode of transmission. Lastly, contaminated food or water can be ingested.
Immunizations can help prevent the spread of some infections so it is important that individuals keep up-to-date on their immunizations. Infections such as diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, polio, measles, rubella, mumps and Haemophilus influenzae type B, hepatitis B, varicella (chickenpox) and influenza can all be prevented by immunizations.
Measures can be taken to ensure that the water supply is safe from infection sources. It is important to have adequate sewage treatment and sanitary handling of food and milk are also important measure to take to insure that we are controlling the spread of infectious disease from these areas.
Worldwide, physicians, scientists, and public health officials gather information on infections and report them so that new standards and guidelines for treating and controlling these infections can be developed and enforced.
Developing new antibiotics and other antimicrobials also play an important role in controlling the spread of infectious diseases. This is why it is important to fund new research and development for drugs.
Healthcare facilities workers, administration and public officials need to stay current on infection control issues.