Updated: Apr 7, 2020
What Is Infection Control
Infections control relates to the spread of an infection which could be viral or bacterial in nature. Hospitals and doctors' offices are places where people go when they feel sick and it is important to have a system set in place to prevent the spread of infection to patients and healthcare workers. The systems set in place are referred to as Standard Precaution, Airborne Precaution, Droplet Precaution, and Contact Precaution and additional actions to take can be found in facilities' unique protocols for a given situation. Each one of these precautions requires healthcare staff to wear a particular piece of personal protective equipment (PPE) which will protect them from infectious diseases. PPE includes Mask, Gown, Goggles, Gloves, N-95 Respirator and Face Shield. This equipment is usually only worn when patients show particular symptoms. For example, when you visit your doctor they normally do not enter the room wearing a hazmat suit if you are coming in for a toothache. Here is a list to follow to ensure you protect yourself against infections. Infections can be spread through any given method of transmission, symptoms of infection like coughing or sneezing can serve a pathway for that virus or bacteria to infect other people.
1. Standard Precautions/Contact Precautions
Standard Precaution refers to treating all patients as if they are infectious. This is done regardless if they show symptoms of being sick. Gloves should be worn whenever you have to make physical contact with your patient.
PPE to Wear: Gloves
2. Droplet Precautions
Droplet precaution protects against Droplet Spread. Droplet Spread is the mucus and bodily fluids that come out of someone's mouth or nose when they cough or sneeze. Droplet Spread can some times allow a viral or bacterial infection to be airborne or a short period of time if this spread is inhaled by someone close to the infected person. Health care workers can protect other patients and themselves from droplet spread by putting a mask on the sick patient and themselves when they must provide care to the patient. Healthcare workers mask should be worn when they are within 3-5 feet of the patient showing droplet symptoms (coughing or sneezing)
PPE to Wear: Face Shield and Mask.
3. Airborne Precautions
Airborne Precautions are to be strictly followed whenever a patient is confirmed or highly suspected to have an airborne infection. Bacterial and Viral infections that can be transmitted through the air are cause for great concern in the healthcare setting because the infection can easily spread in the waiting or emergency room especially on a busy day when people are in close proximity to each other in a closed space. Airborne Precautions usually involve placing a mask on the sick patient if possible and placing the sick patient into an airborne infection Isolation room (A.I.I.R). This room may have a ventilation system that may be separate from the rest of the hospital. When Healthcare workers need to enter this room to provide care to a patient they should be in full PPE wear.
PPE to Wear: N95 Respirator and Gown (May also include Gloves and face shield)
How to Don PPE (Put On)
Mask (N-95 Respirator)
Goggles (Face Shield)
How to Duff (remove) PPE
Goggles (face shield)
Mask (N-95 Respirator)
Importance Of Personal Protective Equipment & Infection Control
The Center for Disease Control states that PPE is meant to protect healthcare professionals. However, if used improperly can be the reason for the spread of infection. Any PPE should be immediately removed if contaminated with a patient's blood or bodily fluid. The same PPE should not different patients, and the correct size of PPE should always be worn. A research article titled "Lack of SARS Transmission among Healthcare Workers, United States" written Benjamin J. Park, Angela J. Peck, et al. showed that healthcare workers accounted for many of the people infected with the sars virus during the 2003 outbreak. This outbreak showed the importance and need for protocols regarding infection control and the stricter use of PPE. When a healthcare professional becomes ill with an infectious disease they could potentially spread it to patients that already have life-threatening medical conditions. Healthcare workers need to take infection control seriously to protect themselves and their patients.