All of us – Cabrini staff, doctors, patients and visitors – have a role in reducing the risk of infection and managing one if it occurs.
What is Cabrini doing to prevent infections?
Cabrini’s Infection Prevention and Control Service continually monitors hospital infections and uses the information to implement the best practices to reduce the risks of infection.
- maintaining a clean environment
- using appropriate disinfection and sterilised equipment
You will see healthcare professionals do the following things to prevent and control the spread of infection:
- washing hands with soap or using alcohol based hand sanitiser
- wearing protective equipment such as gloves, gowns, masks and goggles
- isolating people who have an infective illnesses
How patients can help protect themselves
- Do not be afraid to ask a healthcare professional whether they have cleaned their hands.
- Wash your own hands carefully with soap and water or use the alcohol based hand sanitiser provided for your use on the bedside locker. If you are resting in bed, use the hand gel. If your hands are visibly dirty, ask your healthcare professional for a wet soapy cloth.
- Ask your visitors to wash their hands or use the hand rub provided outside your room and at the end of your bed, when they come to see you and when they leave.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze (or into your elbow if you don’t have one) and clean your hands afterwards.
- Report any infections you have had recently, especially if you are still on antibiotics.
- Make sure you take the full course of antibiotics you have been given, even if you are feeling better.
- If you have a dressing or a wound, keep the skin around the dressing clean and dry. Tell your healthcare professional promptly if it becomes loose or wet.
- Tell your healthcare professional if the area around the drips, lines, tubes or drains inserted into your body becomes red, swollen or painful.
- Follow instructions you are given on looking after wounds or medical devices you have. Ask questions, f you are not sure of what to do.
- Let your healthcare professional know if your room or equipment hasn’t been cleaned properly.
- Stop smoking before and after surgery as smoking increases the risk of infection.
- Take your doctor’s advice about the timing of your discharge. It is often safer to be at home, once you are well enough to manage there.
If you have specific concerns, please discuss them with your doctor or nurse. The Infection Prevention and Control Service is available for information and advice.
How visitors can help minimise the spread of infection
- Reconsider your visit if you feel unwell or have a cold, cough or have been vomiting or had diarrhoea.
- Clean your hands with the alcohol hand sanitiser available outside the room or wash with soap and water before entering and on leaving a patient’s room.
- Avoid bringing too many visitors at one time to visit someone. Check with the ward staff.
- Be careful not to touch dressings, drips or other equipment around the bed.
Special precautions for patients
Some germs are resistant to antibiotics or highly contagious to other people. If you have one of these infections, you have to be treated in a special way. This may involve being placed in a single room, and having the attendants wear protective gowns, gloves and masks. These measures are for your benefit, as well as those who need to be in contact with you.
How does an infection happen?
We all carry millions of bacteria (germs) in our bodies. Most of them cause no harm, and indeed many are important for health. An infection happens when bacteria lodge somewhere where they should not be. So, wound infections can happen after operations when a bacteria lodges in the cut or enters the bloodstream through the cut.
Other infections can arise from germs we do not normally carry in our bodies and which are more aggressive. These are generally transmitted from other people or the environment around you.
Most bacterial infections can be treated successfully with antibiotics. However, there are some infections caused by bacteria that are resistant to most antibiotics. For example, Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA), Vancomycin Resistant Enterococci (VRE) and some bloodstream and bowel infections. The risk of getting these infections depends on how healthy you are, how long you have been in hospital, and certain medications that you take (including some antibiotics). These specific infections may require the use of special antibiotics.
What about viruses?
Many infections, including most coughs, colds and sore throats are due to viruses, rather than bacteria. Most of them get better on their own. Antibiotics do not help and may actually make you worse in some situations. Certain viruses, such as those that cause hepatitis and HIV-AIDS are much more serious and may be transmitted in a variety of ways including via the bloodstream. While there are now drugs that control many of these, prevention is far better than treatment. Reducing your risk of exposure to viruses is another role of the Cabrini Infection Prevention and Control Department.
What if I am worried about getting an infection?
We all have a role to play in minimising the risk of infection. If you are concerned about any of these issues as a patient, please raise them with your doctor or nurse.