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Why Monitoring Infection Is A Vital Control Procedure

Aug 27, 2008
In all healthcare institutions the importance of monitoring the infection control procedures is well documented. In the media the fear of super bugs such as C-diff an MRSA have been highlighted, meaning that hospitals and other medical centres must face a great deal of public scrutiny in terms of their infection control methods. Part of monitoring the spread of infection is understanding the modes of transmission; by doing this, infection can be controlled more effectively.

The transmission of infection occurs through a number of mediums. Generally these are referred to as inhalation, ingestion, inoculation, contact and transplacental. In lay mans terms these are the transmission of infection by breathing, eating or drinking, by a sharp object or bite, through contact and finally from mother to baby in the womb. This is important in infection control as micro-organisms can utilise one or more of these methods to spread from patient to patient. Naturally limiting these modes of transmission is the ultimate of objective of infection control procedures.

Contact transmission is regarded to be one of the hardest to limit by healthcare professionals. Additionally however, through the monitoring of this mode of transmission, the category has been further subdivided. These sub-categories are direct, in-direct and droplet. These are important in infection control as they relate directly to the behaviour of healthcare staff.

Direct contact is normally through person to person means. In terms of healthcare operations this refers to bathing, the changing of dressings and the use of internal measurement devices. All of these actions carry a risk of spreading infection across wards and hence effective measures must be used to limit the transmission. Today, frequent hand washing is still regarded as the best way to control this type of spread and should be included in a larger, all encompassing monitoring and limiting process.

Indirect transmission on the other hand is transmission by means such as contact with infected surfaces or equipment. This is why any infection control strategy; equipment should be thoroughly cleaned after every use to ensure that indirect transmission does not occur. Additionally this should also include the safe and sterile storage of all equipment to further reduce this form of transmission.

The subcategory, droplet, refers to instances where infection is spread by sneezing or coughing. For healthcare professionals, it is important to remember that the danger distance from the host is around three feet when either coughing or sneezing. In terms of actions that can limit this type of transmission; the wearing of masks is arguably the most successful. However, the masks need to be regularly changed in order to keep spreading down to a minimum.

One of the biggest problems for hospitals and healthcare institutions is that there is always a large amount of susceptible hosts. In terms of a definition, a susceptible host is anyone with a weakened immune system that will be easily infected. Obviously medical professionals should have training in monitoring infection spread and how to keep susceptible hosts to a minimum.

With so much argument over the best ways to control infection in hospitals and medical centres it is understandable that some professionals are unsure of the best course of action to follow. With a wealth of cleaning products out there and so many different methods, it is only through training and knowledge that operatives will be able to make best use of them.
About the Author
Medical expert Thomas Pretty looks into the importance of infection control monitoring in hospitals and healthcare institutions.
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