Hospital-acquired infections are infections associated with health-care, which usually occur during the period when the patient remains in the hospital. The infections may turn out to be serious to the extent of causing death of victims. They are infections whose origin is not associated with the initial diagnosis of the patient. They are usually caused by bacteria that are accumulated from the hospital. The infections that appear after 48 hours of admission in the hospital are usually considered to be hospital-acquired. There are three ways of transmission. The first is transmission from pathogens that may be found on the surface of the hands of the health personnel. Secondly, the infections can also be transmitted through dirty air purification systems, contaminated water, unhygienic staff as well as improper physical layout of the hospital leading to congestion. The level of sickness of a patient and the length of time that he stays in hospital can also facilitate the transmission of pathogens (Davey P. 2005 pp. 33-37).
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Types of hospital acquired infections
- Clostridium difficile is the most common hospital acquired infection that causes diarrhea. It occurs as a result of toxins produced by the bacteria which cause damage to the bowel thereby causing diarrhea. It is usually spread through contamination of surfaces with the bacteria from the stool of an infected person. Prevention can be achieved through cleanliness in the hospital surfaces and most importantly, washing of hands after visiting the toilet facilities.
- Staphylococcus aureus is also common bacteria which are found on the skin surface as well as inside the nose of even people who are healthy. The infections on the skin are normally minor with symptoms of boils.In more complicated situations, the bacteria may result in fever, ache and serious infections. This usually occurs amongst people who have a frail immunity. As in difficile prevention of its spread includes promotion of hand hygiene.
- Vancomycin-resistant Enterococci are bacteria that are usually found in the bowels of human beings as well as the skin. The infections may crop up anyplace within in the body, such as in the intestines and the urinary tract. These infections are usually difficult to treat. Control measures include tracking incidences and reporting on regular basis (Wenzel R, 2001 pp. 22-26).
Most common types of hospital associated infections in the United Kingdom
Clostridium difficile and MRSA are the most common hospital transmitted infections in the United Kingdom. The two kinds of infections are usually caused by improper hygienic practices amongst the patients and the health workers. The bacteria attach on the hands and can be spread through contact with other uninfected places. Patients should be advised to wash their hands regularly after visiting the toilet.
Control of hospital transmitted infections
There are several ways of controlling hospital acquired infections. The allocation of bed spaces in private rooms is a good way of controlling the infections. This is because chances of the patient getting in to contact with contaminated surfaces are minimal. However, these require the hospital staff attending the patient to maintain high standards of hygiene. Promotion of hygiene amongst the patients is important. They should be educated on the importance of washing hands after visiting the toilet in order to get rid of bacteria that may be attached on them. The National Health Service organizations initiated a sensitization of everybody in the community about the importance of cleaning hands through the “clean your hands” campaign. Its main objective was to reduce hospital associated infections which can be transmitted from hospitals and from the community. Sensitizing the community on the importance of cleaning hands is a major move towards reducing these infections. It also targets healthcare workers in order to safeguard the patients from contaminated hands of the health workers as well as safeguarding the workers themselves against infections.
The National Health Service is working hard towards maintaining high standards of cleanliness and hygiene in the hospitals in the United Kingdom. The hospital staffs have recently been equipped with new equipment for cleaning and have also been trained on supplementary modern techniques of cleaning and sanitation. Cleanliness has also improved due to dedication by staff in the West Suffolk Hospitals. This has boosted efforts towards control of hospital acquired infections. The government has introduced new measures to control these infections. Education of the cleaning staff on customer care as well as hygienic practices to control infections is significant in infection control. They also have a helpdesk where sanitation issues are reported and responded to immediately. The hospitals have introduced hand cleaning solutions for each patient to encourage them on maintenance of hygiene. National Service Bodies received Health Business Awards in 2008, attributed to the efforts of the NHS trusts in the improvement of cleanliness in hospitals in order to control the occurrence and spread of hospital associated infections. Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust as well as West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust are NHS organizations that were awarded because of their efforts in cleanliness. They were noted for having achieved a considerable reduction in reducing in hospital acquired infections (PSE 2008).
Together with training on hygiene practices the hospital cleaning staffs have also been trained on responding swiftly to cleaning needs especially in cases of vomiting. Amongst the cleaning team are supervisors who have been allocated areas for which they are responsible of filling in checklists after ensuring that they are clean. There are posters that are visible for every patient reminding them to clean their hands using the foam solutions provided beside the bed. The work of cleanliness supervisors is assessed constantly by the newly appointed monitoring officer in the facilities department. Cleaners have to clean the toilets every two hours and fill in a checklist for each toilet. Hospital floors are cleaned on a daily basis followed by scrubbing and buffing regularly. Modern cleaning agents and micro-fiber mops assist in reducing contamination on hospital surfaces. The National Hospital Service has always been flexible and ready to adopt new methods of cleanliness inn order to protect patients from hospital transmitted infections. Nurses play a very important role in hospital infection control. They ensure that the patients are informed on the importance of good hygiene practices such as washing hands after visiting toilets (Hajjeh R. 2004 pp. 27-35).
Government policies are important in ensuring that planning and implementation of prevention and control of hospital transmitted infections are adequately carried out. The health act 2006 assists the National Health Service bodies to develop measures to be undertaken in order to accomplish effective prevention and control of hospital acquired infections. The procedures that the National Hospital Service managers are supposed to follow in order for them to guarantee the health of the patients are indicated in the code of practice. It aims at ensuring that health workers minimize the risk of exposing patients to health related ailments. The Code relates to the quality of health care services that are offered to the people of the United Kingdom by the National Health Services’ bodies. It states that each of them should possess adequate systems in order for it to comply with the provisions of the code of practice aimed at reducing the risk of hospital associated infections to the patients, hospital staffs as well as visitors. The government has recently developed new rules that are aimed at ensuring that proper hygienic standards are observed in all bodies under the National Health Service as well as private hospitals. This was extended to all healthcare facilities and home based care service providers.
The government recently gave the Healthcare Commission a new role in a bid to improve on the performance of the National Health Service. It is currently the body that is responsible for promotion of prevention of hospital acquired infections. This body ensures that the National Health Service performs according to the best practices. Due to its independence in its operations, the commission is intended to boost the level of hygiene in hospitals within the United Kingdom. Its work is to inspect and give recommendations on the necessary measures that are supposed to be put in place by the NHS as well as all the other health care providers (DH Information 2005 pp.15-17). The National Health Service under the assessment of this commission has improved its performance and now the high standards of health care are being provided in hospitals within the United Kingdom. The National Health Service is closely collaborating with microbiologists in order to establish ways of controlling C. diffissile and other healthcare associated infections. These efforts are all aimed at ensuring the quality of services in hospitals within the United Kingdom.
It is important to prevent hospital associate infections before they become a threat to life. Most of them are related to hygiene especially failure to clean hands after visiting toilets. The National Health Service prioritizes on the control and prevention of hospital acquired infections in all its bodies. However, it is equally important for private hospitals that are not in the direct control of the National Hospital Services to emulate the efforts of NHS of ensuring that patients are guaranteed safety from hospital transmitted infections. The National Hospital Service encourages the efficient avoidance and control of these infections to be a culture in all medical institutions and in the day to day activities of every individual.
The efforts of the National Health Service in promotion of prevention and control are mainly concentrated in awareness creation, about good hygiene practices amongst healthcare staff, patients as well as visitors of various hospitals. It encourages the health personnel to take swift measures to curb the spread of infections once reported in patients. The efforts to equip hospital cleaners with the necessary equipment to ensure maximum cleanliness is maintained is a major move towards controlling hospital transmitted infections. With cooperation between nurses, patients, visitors to hospitals as well as the National Health Service, control and prevention of these infections will be accomplished. Government’s influence in the performance of service care providers is significant in improving hygiene in health care facilities.
- Davey P. 2005. Interventions to improve antibiotic prescribing practices for hospitalIn: Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. John Wiley & Sons ltd.
- DH Information Action on Health Care: Associated Infections in England, HCAI Consultation, Department of Health. <http://www.bsac.org.uk/_db/_documents/HCAI_Code_of_Practice.pdf.> viewed on 13 Jan. 2009.
- PSE, Health Business Award, Public Sector Publishers,
- Hajjeh R. 2004. Recommendations and Reports: Guidelines for Preventing Health Care-Associated Infections. Atlanta, GA: CDC.
- Wenzel R, 2001. The impact of Hospital Acquired Infections. Emerg Inf McKibben