Infection control in healthcare is an organisation-wide policy that aims to prevent the spread of infectious diseases.
It is also known to the World Health Organisation as infection prevention and control, or IPC. This is a very important area in healthcare, because it applies to every single person who works in the sector. It aims to prevent healthcare associated infections (HCAIs).
Policies should involve three key aims according to the NHS outcomes framework 2014/2015. These goals are:
- Preventing premature deaths
- Making sure that people have a positive care experience
- Preventing avoidable harm and creating a safe environment
In short, the control of infection in healthcare is vital to prevent patients from sustaining further harm, and to have a good overall experience of health institutions.
In infection control in healthcare, you prevent things like a wound infection, or a strep infection. Strep is short for Streptococcal and is an infection of the throat. Wound infections are common and may happen when you forget to wash your hands and come into contact with an open cut.
In healthcare organisations, there is usually a dedicated IPC team. They are responsible for making sure that hygiene policies are put into practice, to protect staff, patients, clients and any visitors. As a result, they look to make sure surfaces and tools are disinfected, people wash their hands and staff have good personal hygiene. Staff also need to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) like masks and aprons.
Of course, it is not all up to the organisation to control infections. Patients and visitors should do everything to keep good personal hygiene and keep contact to a minimum if there is an outbreak. If visitors feel ill, then they should not go to the institution.
Why is Infection Control Important?
The first and most obvious reason why the controlling infection is important is because it saves lives. Infections can be life threatening, especially if they are not the only problem you are dealing with.
Infections on their own tend to be nasty but manageable. However, in the UK alone, there are more than 44,000 fatalities every year resulting from sepsis. Also known as blood poisoning, sepsis is a condition where your body “overreacts to an infection and starts to damage your… own tissues and organs”.
Coupled with this, infections and germs spread so fast. You need to stop the problem at source, and if not, then people can pass diseases onto other people. The situation can become unmanageable really fast, and visitors may pass the infection onto members of the public if they aren’t careful. To prevent this, you need effective measures in place to begin with. Managing the risk and controlling the drugs given out to patients is really important, as infections can become resistant to antibacterial medicine.
Another reason why infection control is so important, is because it reduces patient time in a hospital. This means that the organisation doesn’t have to spend as many resources on dealing with infections, saving time and money. This should make the institutions more effective overall.
Finally, it is important because it applies to a number of sectors in business, not just healthcare. Schools, universities, restaurants, cafes and hotels all need good infection control policies. Otherwise, there may be public health problems if customers eat infected food.
Infection Control Training
One part of your responsibility as an employer is to perform staff training. This can be face-to-face, and you can combine it with online training courses.
For more information and help with your infection policies, you can look at an eLearning course. Our course is approved by RoSPA and CPD and will train your employees to avoid the spread of infections.