Clean Care Is Safer Care

This article is part of a series of inspiring stories behind the vital work being done to reduce the global burden of this preventable public health challenge. 

Engaging patients and healthcare professionals as partners is critical to the prevention and control of healthcare-associated infections. Patient information brochures and training for healthcare personnel have become standard practice in many hospitals. But some healthcare institutions are going the extra mile and introducing new initiatives to prevent, control and raise awareness of these infections.

Doctor Ling Moi Lin, Director of Infection Control at Singapore General Hospital, says more and more healthcare facilities are using e-modules to train healthcare professionals in infection prevention and control. These modules are mostly directed at intensive care unit (ICU) staff for the prevention of the most common infections – mainly ventilator-associated pneumonia, catheter-associated urinary tract infection and central line-associated blood stream infection. 

Singapore's General Hospital – a 1,600 bed acute tertiary care facility – uses innovative teaching methods to promote infection prevention and control. Evidence-based best care practices are compiled as bundles and pocket-sized cards are produced and circulated to all staff for easy reference. Quality improvement teams were formed to help implement these policies in ICUs, where creative use of video teaching and checklists help to ensure that best practices are complied with at all times. These initiatives were a great success as the hospital was able to reach eradicate totally ventilator-associated pneumonia and central line-associated blood stream infections in ICUs.

In 2001, the World Health Organization released a Global Strategy for Containment of Antimicrobial Resistance, recommending the establishment of infection prevention and control programs in all hospitals and stressing the need for coordination of these activities and the education of staff. Moi Lin notes, however, that “the main challenge lies with allocating adequate resources to education and training of all healthcare workers. Most healthcare institutions have an inadequate number of trained Infection control professionals who need to balance their time with surveillance, outbreak management, administrative matters and education.”

Some healthcare institutions try to manage this problem with creative solutions. The annual celebration of key events has been widely used to raise awareness and improve education. Every year, thousands of hospitals worldwide celebrate Hand Hygiene Day on 5 May and Infection Control Week in November. Other innovative strategies include skits, wall poster competitions, debates and game booths to educate patients and medical staff on the issue of infection prevention and control.

The Singapore General Hospital's hand hygiene program helped achieve staff hand hygiene compliance of 60-70 percent for the last two years. Patients are taught to use antiseptic bath solutions before surgical procedures which led to a significant reduction in surgical site infections. According to Moi Lin, “patients have the right to enjoy safe care whilst in our facilities. Their awareness and understanding of infection prevention and control is part of the excellent care we deliver.” 

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 ICPIC, 27 June 2013


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