Infection Control

Fighting and controlling infection in the medical community is everyone’s responsibility. You can do your part by knowing the common preventative measures to avoid the spread of infection. The most effective way to prevent infection is to destroy the germs when they are on your hands, equipment or furniture.

To prevent the spread if infection, all hospital staff must practice the basic principle of medical and surgical asepsis. Medical asepsis, otherwise known as clean technique aims at reducing germs and their access to patients. Surgical asepsis or surgical technique has to do with keeping areas and equipment free of germs to make sure all medical procedures are sterile.

Preventative Measures

The following list of general methods are effective ways to destroy germs:

  • Decontamination – Makes objects safer to handle before they are cleaned.
  • Antiseptics – Stops the growth of germs.
  • Cleaning – Removes germs from the skin using soap and water.
  • Disinfection – Destroys germs on objects and equipment.
  • Sterilization – Destroys germs on surgical instruments.
  • Protective Clothing – Prevents the spread of germs on clothes.
  • Proper Disposal – Bodily waste, dressings and infected articles need to be isolated.

Along with destroying infectious germs, there are many techniques that you can utilize to help prevent the spread of infection. The following tips will help protect your patients and yourself from infection:

  • Keep patient areas clean.
  • Equipment such as bedpans and commodes should be frequently emptied and stored in their proper place.
  • Store hygiene equipment in the proper location.
  • Keep patients clean.
  • Don’t touch the inner surface of glasses or plates.
  • Pick up eating utensils by the handles.
  • Keep patients water pitchers clean and all food covered.
  • Don’t shake off linens.
  • Don’t breathe into patients faces.
  • Wash hands frequently
  • Keep current on any vaccinations.
  • Never put supplies on the floor.
  • Wear protective clothing.
  • Empty drainage bottles before they become full.
  • If you have any question regarding the sterility of an object, assume the object is unsterile.

Patient and Family Education

At times, it may be necessary to educate the patient and their family about the proper precautionary measures regarding infection. When doing this, carefully explain why restrictions are necessary and let the patient and family ask questions and discuss their concerns. Sometimes, the best lesson for patient and family members will be demonstrated through your example.


Q.  What must you do if you are stuck unintentionally by a medical needle while on duty?

A.  First and foremost, you must clean out the area where you were stuck.  You should wash this area for a few minutes by using both warm water and soap.  The next thing to do is to tell your supervisor about the need stick so that the appropriate reports can be completed.

Explanation:  It is critical to wash out the area where you were stuck by the need right away to help reduce the risk of infection and other complications.  You will be given lab work for HIV and Hepatitis.  This lab work will be completed more than once in the months that follow.  It is often protocol for a physician to order antibiotics for you as well.

Q.  If a patient has TB, what protective gear should you have on before entering the room?

A.  As always, you should be wearing gloves when performing procedures for patients with TB.  You must also wear a mask when entering the room of someone who has or is suspected of having TB.

Explanation:  TB can be spread when infected particles enter a person’s nose or mouth.  When you wear a mask, you reduce the risk of acquiring this infection.  The mask will protect both your nose and mouth while you are working with an interacting with your patient.

Q.  What is PPE in terms of infection control?

A.  Personal Protective Equipment is abbreviated as PPE.  This “equipment” is items used to help provide a barrier for you to help prevent the spread of infection.  There are a range of things that can be used to act as this barrier.

Explanation:  The level of protection you need will depend on the condition of patients and whether they have contagious and infectious health conditions.  Items can include things like gloves, masks, gowns, slippers, etc.  There will be standard protocol that will be used by healthcare facilities for certain types of infections and other medical conditions.

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