Infection Control deals with containing infections in any healthcare setting. However this can prove to be extremely tricky as infection can be passed in many ways between the patients, several healthcare personnel and even the family as all these groups of people comes in constant contact with each other thus raising the possibility of spreading infections.
The old adage about prevention being better than cure rings particularly true in such environments as some basic care can help in minimizing the chances of such infections from spreading in the first place.
* Hand Hygiene: Maintaining a clean pair of hands is the most simple and effective manner to avoid dangerous microorganisms from spreading. It is your hands that come in maximum contact while handling patients, instruments or administering treatments and can cause the infection to pass on easily. Washing your hands with a disinfectant soap and sufficient water and then wiping it clean with a paper towel can be very useful. Ideally you must wash hands in between different tasks and dealing with different patients. Also hands must be cleaned promptly after contact with any blood, body fluids, medical instruments and items, infected clothes as well as used and discarded bandages.
* Sterilization: One of the most effective ways to get rid of microorganisms from instruments is sterilization. The different methods employed include steam, heat and chemicals, with the first 2 being more common due to ease and availability and chemicals being used in a cold sterilization process especially when the instruments cannot be subjected to heat. Though less effective than sterilization, a disinfectant chemical may also be used at normal temperatures to clean of various surfaces.
* Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): PPE are one of the better known and commonly visible kinds of protection that can work well for forming a physical barrier to keep infection at bay. A host of such equipment that comprises of gowns, caps, gloves, masks, face shields and even shoe covers can help in avoiding contact with infected blood, instruments or related materials. These can protect the eyes, mouth and nose and even prevent infection from spreading through the clothes and shoes. Furthermore sufficient care must be exercised to discard any such gear that is disposable and meant for single used only, while the other reusable items must be properly disinfected before using them again. Also remember that PPE must never be shared.
* Vaccination: Healthcare personnel are constantly exposed to infection due to the nature of their work. Vaccinations can help in boosting their immunity against contracting diseases. This can prove especially useful against diseases that have no concrete cure, for example the Hepatitis B Virus (HBV). And though vaccinations may not be foolproof they do add another layer of safety.
The above preventive measures can be followed up by constant surveillance to ensure all steps are being adhered to and that any suspected spread of infection can be nipped in the bud with prompt action. Ultimately the measures adopted will depend on the particular healthcare setup and also the regulations that are prevalent in the particular country or state.