Infection prevention and control

Why is it important?

Infection control refers to the policy and procedures implemented to control and minimize transmission of infections in healthcare settings with the main purpose of reducing infection rates.

In light of the recent Covid-19 pandemic, the focus on good infection prevention and control practices has never been more important.

Evidence has now shown that people infected with COVID-19 who are either pre-symptomatic1 or have very mild or no respiratory symptoms (asymptomatic)2 can transmit the virus to others without knowing so it is important that we take even greater steps to stop the spread of coronavirus in healthcare settings

The role of infection control is to prevent and reduce the risk for healthcare acquired infections. This can be achieved by implementing infection control programs in the forms of surveillance, isolation, outbreak management, environmental hygiene, employee health, education, and infections prevention policies and management.

Healthcare-associated infections (HCAIs) can develop either as a direct result of healthcare interventions such as medical or surgical treatment, or from being in contact with a healthcare setting (including care homes).

The term HCAI covers a wide range of infections. The most well-known include those caused by methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Clostridium difficile (C. difficile).

HCAIs pose a serious risk to residents, staff and visitors. They can incur significant costs for the organisation concerned and cause significant morbidity to those infected. Therefore infection prevention and control must be considered to be a key priority. Furthermore the growing emergence of antimicrobial resistance in a range of human pathogens and the continual development of infectious disease presents further challenges for infection control.

To protect residents, staff and visitors from infection it is important that the risk is eliminated, reduced or managed effectively. This can be mitigated by safe systems of work outlined in the hierarchy of controls.

Refer to the NHS website ‘Every action counts’ for further information and resources

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