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Infection control is a broad term, dontyou think? It is something every healthcare worker is involved with each day. Itgenerally refers to the policies and the procedures used to minimize the risk ofspreading infections, especially in hospitals and healthcare facilities. Thepurpose of infection control is to reduce the occurrence of infectious diseasescaused 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 conferencesand have been approached by attendees, many of whom read ICT each month,who claim, I dont work in infection control. They are both right andwrong.
If you work in a healthcare facility, you in one way oranother play a vital role in infection control. Its fundamental. Thosewho are in sterile processing are charged with cleaning and sterilization ofinstruments and equipment used throughout the hospital. If something isntprocessed correctly, it can have an adverse effect on a staff member or worseyet, a patient. Sterile processing team members, you are a part of the infectioncontrol process. Environmental services, through their work in general cleaningthroughout an institution, play an important part in cutting down the spread ofinfectious agents such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)and vancomycin-resistant enterococcus (VRE). Your jobs are also a part ofinfection control. Staff members in the operating room come in contact withbloodborne pathogens each day, and the duty nurse with patients, sharps,bedrails and doorknobs. Those who work in administration, and even at theregistration desk, are involved in infection control.
Each issue of ICT provides you with current andrelevant information you need to help you perform your jobs better, whilestaying in touch with infection control. By now, you all know the basic drill.Wear personal protective equipment (PPE) and wash your hands before and aftercoming in contact with a patient. These are all small steps that go a long waytoward reducing infection rates amongst patients, and even staff. I would liketo take this awareness even farther.
Lets play a game; I call it Six Degrees of InfectionControl. Here is how it works: Examine your daily job tasks, and then tracethe steps of these tasks. Somewhere within six steps your action has either comein contact with a patient or an infectious agent. You will really be surprisedwhen you track your movements throughout the facility.
I want to hear about your results in this game. The first 50people who email me with their results and how infection control interceded willwin a free continuing education course (valued at $15) from the InfectionControl Education Institute (www.iceinstitute.com). You will all learn somethingfrom this game, and I am sure I will, too.
P.S. Stopby and meet the staff of ICT in booth 626/628 at APIC June 6-10, 2004 inPhoenix. Tell us your infection control stories. Who knows, maybe someof those stories will wind up in the pages of a future issue of ICT. AsPhoenix is our home town, we can promise you one thing this yearsconference will be a HOT one.