It is a fact that hospitals can be a place where the risk of infection is high. Without comprehensive preventative measures being undertaken, patients and visitors can be susceptible to getting hospital-acquired infections. It is the responsibility of all hospital staff members to do their utmost to minimize the risk of such infections, and every hospital should seek to educate its staff on the importance of good practices that seek to minimize the likelihood of such events taking place.
In America, it is estimated that one in every thirty-one patients contracts a hospital-acquired infection as a result of being in hospital for treatment or medical procedures. The effects of these can range from minor illnesses to life-threatening situations.
This article explains three key ways in which hospitals seek to minimize the risk of patients getting infections while in the care of a hospital.
Thorough hand hygiene
A key practice in the ongoing fight to reduce hospital-acquired infections is ensuring that all staff have a thorough routine of excellent hand hygiene. This is especially important for surgical staff and in other patient-facing roles, such as nursing, but the philosophy of excellent hand hygiene should be disseminated to all employees regardless of their role in the hospital. The recent covid-19 pandemic demonstrated the importance of comprehensive hand hygiene in the fight to stop the spread of the virus, and similar practices are routinely followed in hospitals around the world. The use of alcohol-based sanitizing gels is one effective way to thoroughly decontaminate the hands and lower arms, and when this is paired with approved methods of washing, it can kill nearly all germs and viruses.
The use of antibiotics
While modern medicine seeks to reduce the regular use of antibiotics in terms of their prescription for minor illnesses and conditions, they are still often used for patients who need to undergo major surgery. This is because the sites of entry into the body during an operation can become an easy route for viruses and bacteria to enter the person. After an operation, and while the body is healing, it may be more susceptible to the effects of viruses and infections, and this can cause serious post-operation complications. These can result in extended hospital stays, which in turn can cost more money. Using a course of antibiotics can therefore be an effective way of reducing the risk of infections after an operation has taken place.
Single-use and antimicrobial products
Many hospitals routinely use single-use products and medical devices during procedures, examinations, and operations. The use of these helps to minimize the risk of cross-contamination that can lead to hospital-acquired infections as they are securely disposed of after use on a patient. Modern single-use medical devices also tend to be made from 100% recyclable materials, which give them environmentally friendly benefits as well as being effective against the spread of infection. In addition, some medical curtains that are produced for hospital use can be single-use and feature antimicrobial coatings that help to minimize the spread of bacteria on these items.