Six Degrees of Infection Control
Infection control is a broad term, dont you think? It is something every healthcare worker is involved with each day. It generally refers to the policies and the procedures used to minimize the risk of spreading infections, especially in hospitals and healthcare facilities. The purpose of infection control is to reduce the occurrence of infectious diseases caused by bacteria or viruses and spread by airborne transmission, human-to-human contact, or human contact with an infected surface.
I have been to a countless number of professional conferences and have been approached by attendees, many of whom read ICT each month, who claim, I dont work in infection control. They are both right and wrong.
If you work in a healthcare facility, you in one way or another play a vital role in infection control. Its fundamental. Those who are in sterile processing are charged with cleaning and sterilization of instruments and equipment used throughout the hospital. If something isnt processed correctly, it can have an adverse effect on a staff member or worse yet, a patient. Sterile processing team members, you are a part of the infection control process. Environmental services, through their work in general cleaning throughout an institution, play an important part in cutting down the spread of infectious agents such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and vancomycin-resistant enterococcus (VRE). Your jobs are also a part of infection control. Staff members in the operating room come in contact with bloodborne pathogens each day, and the duty nurse with patients, sharps, bedrails and doorknobs. Those who work in administration, and even at the registration desk, are involved in infection control.
Each issue of ICT provides you with current and relevant information you need to help you perform your jobs better, while staying in touch with infection control. By now, you all know the basic drill. Wear personal protective equipment (PPE) and wash your hands before and after coming in contact with a patient. These are all small steps that go a long way toward reducing infection rates amongst patients, and even staff. I would like to take this awareness even farther.
Lets play a game; I call it Six Degrees of Infection Control. Here is how it works: Examine your daily job tasks, and then trace the steps of these tasks. Somewhere within six steps your action has either come in contact with a patient or an infectious agent. You will really be surprised when you track your movements throughout the facility.
I want to hear about your results in this game. The first 50 people who email me with their results and how infection control interceded will win a free continuing education course (valued at $15) from the Infection Control Education Institute (www.iceinstitute.com). You will all learn something from this game, and I am sure I will, too.
P.S. Stop by and meet the staff of ICT in booth 626/628 at APIC June 6-10, 2004 in Phoenix. Tell us your infection control stories. Who knows, maybe some of those stories will wind up in the pages of a future issue of ICT. As Phoenix is our home town, we can promise you one thing this years conference will be a HOT one.