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Infection prevention and control play an important role in the healthcare setting, protecting both patients and providers from contracting life-threatening illnesses or spreading them to others. As the first country to develop antibiotics, it’s surprising that the United States still has some of the highest rates ofInfection Prevention and Control hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) in the world. Outbreaks such as Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) have become so commonplace that many people don’t even realize they are at risk of infection in many everyday situations.
The Importance of Infection Prevention and Control in the United States
Infection prevention and control is an important part of healthcare in the United States, and it’s something that should be taken seriously by all medical professionals. Failure to do so can put both patients and employees at risk, and it can even be deadly in some instances. Thankfully, there are a number of things you can do to reduce your risks and improve your infection prevention and control skills, including taking the time to learn about it!
Improper hygiene practices
Improper hand hygiene practices are a major contributor to infection transmission. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study found that roughly 90 percent of bacteria can be removed from hands by washing with soap and water alone. The same study found that one-fifth of patients who were admitted to hospitals picked up infections during their stay—more than half from contaminated medical instruments, equipment, or supplies rather than from another patient. New research suggests that some germs may even survive on hospital surfaces for weeks after last use. Which begs a question: is it possible for someone to pick up an infection at your business? If so, how can you minimize risks? Keep reading!
Poor hand hygiene habits
A growing number of infections are preventable by practicing proper hand hygiene. Unfortunately, people don’t always practice good hygiene habits when they should. A 2014 study published in JAMA found that 35 percent of healthcare professionals reported not washing their hands before seeing patients or performing procedures. Around 22 percent even admitted to skipping hand hygiene altogether after going to a bathroom! This is especially concerning given how many infectious diseases are spreading across hospitals and other medical facilities. To reduce infection rates, infection prevention and control programs are essential—and knowing how to properly clean your hands is crucial for these efforts to be successful.
Lack of vaccines or pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP)
In 2014, only 23% of individuals who inject drugs had ever been tested for HIV. Even worse, research from 2013 indicated that only 50% of people living with HIV/AIDS have an undetectable viral load—which means half aren’t taking their medications as prescribed. For example, if someone is on anti-retroviral therapy (ART) but isn’t taking it regularly or not adhering to a specific treatment plan, their viral load will likely increase and become detectable again; it’s also possible for them to pass on their infection to others. It’s essential to adhere to your medication schedule in order to keep your viral load as low as possible; reduce your risk of transmission by using a condom during sex and getting tested regularly.
Unsafe tattooing practices
According to recent studies, unsafe tattooing practices are a leading cause of preventable infections among those who get their tattoos at home. You should always use sterile needles when getting a tattoo; if you don’t own your own equipment, find a licensed artist. If you aren’t certain that your tattoo artist is using sterile needles, report them to your local health department or infection control service right away. Most places will treat getting a safe tattoo just as seriously as getting any other kind of piercing done, and they’ll be glad to work with you to ensure that things stay on the up-and-up.
Other risks associated with tattoos
Although it may be a bit hard to believe, there are risks involved with having a tattoo or body piercing. Infection prevention and control are extremely important when getting new ink or piercings and should be made as priority for any customers that you might have who desire new body art. The United States Center for Disease Control (CDC) advises proper infection prevention and control by creating an open line of communication between your clients, tattoo artists, piercers, and other staff members.
Sexual transmission through exchange of body fluids
The easiest and most common method of transmission is sexual intercourse. This method is obvious, but there are plenty of other body fluids (e.g., saliva, semen, vaginal secretions) that can spread HIV to a partner if they enter an open cut or wound on either person’s body. In addition to sex, infected people can transmit HIV by sharing needles with an uninfected person (if you don’t use clean needles every time), giving blood or donating organs (AIDS can be transmitted through donated blood or organs), and breastfeeding (the virus passes through breast milk). While these methods are not as common as sex, it’s important for patients to know about them since they may not always have control over how their infection could be spread.
Injection drug use
According to CDC’s National HIV Surveillance System (NHSS), an estimated 18,160 people were diagnosed with HIV infection in 2013. Of these, nearly three-quarters (72%) were male and 26% were female. Most new diagnoses among males (81%) were attributed to male-to-male sexual contact. Among females, most new diagnoses (79%) were attributed to heterosexual contact, followed by injection drug use (13%). Injection drug use is also a common route of transmission for hepatitis C virus and hepatitis B virus infections in both males and females.
Animal bites, scratches, and other contact with animals
Each year, more than 4 million people in the United States are exposed to rabies from being bitten or scratched by an animal. Rabies is a preventable viral disease that is almost always fatal once symptoms develop. Even if you’ve been vaccinated against rabies, you should see a doctor immediately if you think you have been exposed. A person who has had recent contact with bats, raccoons, skunks, foxes, or coyotes should also seek medical advice; they may need to receive shots before they can safely return home. People who are regularly exposed to these animals (such as farmers) should make sure they are up-to-date on their vaccinations against rabies before handling any wild animals or working around areas where such animals live.
Being bit by a dog is on the rise
The American Society for Microbiology reports that more than 300,000 people are bitten by dogs each year, a 50 percent increase from 1997. Among those who are hospitalized, approximately 8 percent develop infections. The most common sites of infection include soft tissue, bone and muscle. But as new research shows a link between serious infection risk and dog bites, it’s important to know how to prevent it. One way to do so is by practicing the Infection Prevention and Control he good hand hygiene before handling an animal or after coming into contact with an animal’s environment such as bedding or waste. Hands should be washed with soap and water for at least 20 seconds prior to contact with animals or after coming into contact with potentially infectious material such as blood or feces from animals.