Everyone has a part to play in infection prevention and control

21 Oct 2014 | Infection Prevention & Control

International Infection Prevention Week, October 20-26, is a reminder that infection prevention and control is everyone’s business and responsibility – whether you are a patient, family member or health care professional, says the Health Quality & Safety Commission’s Dr Sally Roberts.

‘In health care facilities and in the community, hand hygiene is the simplest and most effective way to prevent infection,” says Dr Roberts, clinical lead for the Commission’s Infection Prevention and Control Programme. ‘Cleaning your hands regularly either with soap and water or alcohol-based hand gel is fundamental to safe care.’

Hand hygiene is one of the three main strands of the Infection Prevention and Control programme, with information and other resources available on the Commission’s website and also that of the Commission-supported Hand Hygiene New Zealand.

The Commission’s latest quality and safety markers, for April to June 2014, show a continued increase in compliance with the World Health Organization-endorsed ‘five moments of hand hygiene’, which recommends health workers clean their hands:

  • before touching a patient
  • before clean/aseptic procedures
  • after body fluid exposure/risk
  • after touching a patient
  • after touching patient surroundings.

The Infection Prevention and Control programme is currently focusing on preventing infections occurring during patients’ hospital stay.

‘Up to 10 percent of patients admitted to modern hospitals in the developed world acquire one or more infections,” says Dr Roberts.

‘These include infections after surgery, and infections associated with the use of medical devices like IV lines and catheters, which can be devastating to patients and their families, resulting in delayed recovery times, extra doctor visits and time off work. They are also extremely costly to the health system – for example, a surgical site infection following hip or knee replacement costs three to four times as much as the original surgery.’

In June this year, the New Zealand Government became a signatory to the Global Patient Safety Challenge Programme of the World Health Organization World Alliance for Patient Safety, which aims to reduce healthcare associated infection globally.

Last updated 21/10/2014