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Nosocomial Infection

Before focusing on the prevention of an infection, it is imperative to say something about nosocomial infection which is contracted because of an infection or toxin that exists in a certain location, such as a hospital. People now use nosocomial infections interchangeably with the terms healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) and hospital-acquired infections. For an HAI, the infection must not be present before someone has been under medical care.

One of the most common wards where HAIs occur is the intensive care unit (ICU), where doctors treat serious diseases. About 1 in 10 of the people admitted to a hospital will contract an HAI. They’re also associated with significant morbidity, mortality, and hospital costs. Medical care becomes more complex and antibiotic resistance increases (Written by Stubblefield & Medically reviewed and updated by Rogers, 2017). Ironically, people who are free of infections are admitted to a healthcare facility for a particular health problem and often for surgery, then contracting an infection in the facility. Nosocomial infections, also known as hospital-acquired infections, are newly acquired infections that are contracted within a hospital environment, with transmissions usually occurring via healthcare workers, patients, hospital equipment, or interventional procedures.

How Infections Spread

One can assume that if people know how an infection is spread, they should be able to prevent the spreading of infection. Germs are a part of everyday life and are found in our air, soil, water, in and on our bodies. Some germs are helpful, others are harmful. Many germs live in and on our bodies without causing harm and some even help us to stay healthy. Only a small portion of germs are known to cause infection.

How Do Infections Occur?

An infection occurs when germs enter the body, increase in number, and cause a reaction of the body.

Prevention of Infections

Standard precautions are used for all patient care. They are based on a risk assessment and make use of common-sense practices and personal protective equipment that protect healthcare providers from infection and prevent the spread of infection from patient to patient. Practising hand hygiene is a simple yet effective way to prevent infections. Cleaning your hands can prevent the spread of germs, including those that are resistant to antibiotics and are becoming difficult, if not impossible, to treat. On average, healthcare providers clean their hands less than half of the times they should. On any given day, about one in 31 hospital patients has at least one healthcare-associated infection.

Infection prevention and control (IPC) is a scientific approach and practical solution designed to prevent harm caused by infection to patients and health workers. It is grounded in infectious diseases, epidemiology, social science and health system strengthening. IPC occupies a unique position in the field of patient safety and quality universal health coverage since it is relevant to health workers and patients at every single healthcare encounter.

The unsafe healthcare practices related to injections include the re-use of injection equipment, the over-use of injections for certain health conditions, accidental needle-stick injuries in health workers, as well as unsafe management of sharps waste. WHO is committed to promoting safe injection practices. This work supports a key recommendation to Member States to switch to the exclusive use of reuse-prevention syringes (RUPs) for all injections by 2020. WHO also recommends syringes with sharp injury protection (SIPs) features?

The IPC global unit will deliver its work based on five main functions:

  • Leadership, connecting and coordinating
  • Campaigns and advocacy
  • Technical guidance and implementation
  • Capacity-building
  • Measuring and learning.