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Picture of a female Nurse wearing a surgical cover, head cover, face shield, mask, and gloves.She is standing in a bright hall way/
Picture of a female Nurse wearing a surgical cover, head cover, face shield, mask, and gloves.She is standing in a bright hall way/

The Infection Control Department is responsible for preventing and controlling the spread of infections in hospitalized patients. Infections acquired in a hospital are called nosocomial or healthcare-associated infections (HAI).

About Infection Control

Most infection control professionals are nurses or medical technologist with training and experience in preventing infection in patients receiving health care.

Infection control professionals review and monitor:

• Infection reports from the hospitals laboratory, to keep track of infections in surgical wounds, blood, urine, lungs and stool.
• Admission/discharge medical diagnoses.
• Medical conditions occurring during hospital stay.
• Procedures performed on patients.
• Medications given (i.e., antibiotics).
• Emergency room visits.
• Staff and physician practice to ensure that appropriate precautions for infection prevention are used.
• Construction and renovation projects to prevent contamination into the air and water systems.

The Infection Control Nurse assists in educating other staff about infectious diseases, including how diseases and germs are transmitted, prevented and treated. Patients and family members are also educated on how to cope with infections and to prevent spread to their family members.
The community is educated about bloodborne pathogens and infectious diseases through community health fairs and social media (newspapers, radio spots, facebook, etc).

Reportable Diseases

Certain communicable diseases must be reported to the local and state health departments. This may include an interview of the patient when the infection could spread and cause an outbreak or to determine a cause of the infection (such as food poisoning).

Types of Infections - Surgical Site

You can get an infection in surgical wounds from organisms on your own skin. When you're prepared for surgery, your skin is scrubbed with an antimicrobial soap, but this does not sterilize your skin or kill all germs. Despite extensive prevention measures, surgical site infections occur, and Crittenden Community Hospital fights them aggressively.
Infections are more likely to occur in patients who are elderly or obese, in emergency cases or in patients who have an uncontrolled chronic disease such as diabetes, heart failure or chronic lung disease. Your risk for infection increases with the following factors:
•General medical condition (especially obesity or malnutrition)
•Chronic disease (lupus, diabetes, lung disease, kidney failure)
•Type of surgery (surgery for ruptured appendix, colon cancer, gunshot wound)
•Length of time in surgery

Other risk factors include:

• Age (elderly or infant)
• Medications (chemotherapy for cancer, steroids, antibiotics, blood thinners, arthritic meds, sedation/pain medication, etc.).
• Gender (females have increased risk for certain infections).
• Invasive devices (catheters, ventilators, central intravenous lines, nasogastric tubes, etc.).
• Trauma or injury to body before surgery (for example, car accident causing broken bones).
• Presence of infection at another site (sinus infection, skin ulcer, etc).

Prevention measures include:

• Patient's skin is thoroughly scrubbed with antimicrobial soap the night before and morning of the surgery.
• Patient being given prophylactic antibiotic for certain procedures (given within one hour of surgical incision).
• Physician attempting to heal patient's existing infections before elective surgeries.
• Patient following surgeon's instructions about not eating and drinking before surgery to prevent vomiting due to surgery or anesthesia.
• Patient maintaining activity as ordered by surgeon after procedure.
• Patient maintaining good nutritional intake before and after surgery, as allowed by surgeon to promote good healing of tissue.
• Surgical team using sterile equipment and instruments.
• Surgical team thoroughly scrubbing hands and arms.
• Surgical team using sterile techniques during the procedure.

Types of Infections - Bloodstream

Frequently, a person with an infection in one place in the body develops a bacterial infection in the blood stream. This is described as septic.

Prevention measures include:

• Healthcare team using sterile equipment for invasive procedures.
• Healthcare team keeping IV sites and dressings clean.
• Healthcare team keeping existing infections from becoming severe by giving appropriate antibiotics.
• Healthcare team cleaning wounds.
• Healthcare team using sterile techniques during procedures.
• Everyone practicing hand-washing hygiene. (If you do not see your healthcare team cleaning their hands, please ask them to do so).

Types of Infections - Pneumonia

Many persons come to the healthcare setting suffering from pneumonia. Infection Control focuses on preventing the spread of pneumonia to others, including patients who have low immunity due to a procedure or treatment.
Prevention measures include:
• Healthcare team getting patients out of bed and active as soon as possible to boost their immune system.
• Healthcare team using sterile/clean equipment
• Healthcare team using caution when giving tube feedings.
• Everyone practicing hand-washing hygiene. (If you do not see your healthcare team cleaning their hands, please ask them to do so).

Types of Infections - Urinary Tract

Infections that occur in the bladder or kidneys due to healthcare are usually caused by Foley catheters or surgical procedures (such as the placement of a scope into the bladder).

Prevention measures include:

• Healthcare team using a catheter as a last resort.
• Healthcare team leaving the catheter in for only the amount of time absolutely necessary
• Healthcare team using sterile technique during catheter insertion and surgical procedure.
• Avoid disconnecting the catheter and drain tube. This helps to prevent germs from getting into the catheter tube.
• Healthcare team will secure the catheter to the leg to prevent pulling on the catheter.
• Avoid twisting or kinking the catheter.
• Keep the catheter bag lower than the bladder to prevent urine from back flowing to the bladder.
• Healthcare team will empty the drainage bag regularly.
• Healthcare team will wash their hands before and after doing catheter care. (If you do not see your healthcare team cleaning their hands, please ask them to do so).

Precautions and Isolation

Standard Precautions

For healthcare workers to use to prevent the spread of germs when caring for patients. Standard Precautions guidelines were developed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to address the concerns of healthcare workers.
All patients are treated the same in these guidelines whether or not they have a serious infection or not. Every patient is treated as if his or her blood and body fluids are infectious.
Barriers are worn if contact with a body fluid (e.g., blood, sputum, urine, stool, sweat, etc) is anticipated. The correct barrier depends on the task the healthcare worker is going to perform, for example, drawing blood places the technician or nurse at risk of exposure to blood/body fluids, so gloves must be worn (state and federal law). Use of the barrier is also determined by the patient's actions or condition. For example, if a patient is vomiting, the nurse must wear at least gloves to clean up the spilled fluids, Barriers or PPE (personal protective equipment) include gloves, gowns, masks, plastic eye shields, goggles and shoe covers.

Additional Isolation Types

Standard precautions are used for all persons, but additional precautions may be used.

Airborne or Respiratory Isolation

For known or suspected infectious diseases whose germs are spread through the air (such as tuberculosis (TB), measles, chickenpox and mumps). This involves the use of a special, fitted mask before entering the patient's room. The door is closed and a warning sign is placed on the door.

Droplet Precautions

For diseases that are spread through the air but are only on the moist droplets sprayed out from a person's mouth during talking, sneezing or coughing (such as the flu). A sign is placed on the door and a regular mask is worn when entering the room. Moist droplets only spray out about 1.5 to 3 feet from the person's mouth. For this reason, the door may remain open. The patient should be in a private room but could be placed in a semi-private room as long as the other patient has the exact same illness.

Contact Precautions

For diseases spread by hand-to-hand contact (such as MRSA, lice and scabies) or when a patient has a wound infection. A sign is placed on the door to warn the person entering to use gloves and good hand washing. Additional covers may be worn over the clothes, depending on the procedure being done.

Prevention - Hand Washing

The most important and efficient infection prevention measure for all healthcare providers is hand hygiene. Hands should be cleaned before each procedure or contact with a patient and after breaks, smoking, bathroom visits and contact with any other patient or contaminated equipment.
Healthcare workers hands become contaminated every time they come in contact with people, equipment, doorknobs, telephones, their faces, etc. Demand that your nurses, physicians, therapists and other healthcare providers wash their hands before they touch or treat you. If hands are contaminated but not visibly soiled, cleaning can be done with alcohol hand sanitizer. If hands are visibly soiled, then soap and water should be used. Soap dispensers are mounted in every patient's bathroom and department. The alcohol sanitizer is the preferred method of cleaning because the alcohol gets under fingernails, in and around cuticles and kills more germs more quickly. Alcohol sanitizer dispensers are mounted throughout the hospitals clinical areas.
If you've had surgery or have an illness, wash your hands often and refrain from touching your surgical wound or IV site.
If you have any questions, you may call the CCH Infection Control Department at 270-965-1014*

"May your smile always be infectious but not your hands"........Anonymous

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