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5 Essential Infection Control Practices

Apr 30, 2020 10:00:00 AM     posted in Infection Prevention, Veterinary, Dental

Are your healthcare staff and community members aware of the five basic infection prevention principles? While these can seem like second nature to an Infection Preventionist, assuming that your healthcare staff know how to implement proper infection control practices can be dangerous. There’s also a gap between knowing what you need to do, and complying with it during a busy shift. What’s more, members of your wider hospital community, including visitors and delivery or service personnel, may never have learned basic infection prevention that you take for granted.

How do you encourage behavioral change and infection control compliance in staff and community members who may feel overwhelmed or unmotivated to follow your guidelines? It’s especially tough in high-stress environments like healthcare. Here are five standard precautions and tips to help ensure compliance:

  • 1) Respiratory Hygiene

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), respiratory hygiene practices are meant to curb the transmission of airborne pathogens. Prevention focuses on individuals with signs and symptoms of respiratory infection. These include:

  • Cough etiquette. This includes covering the mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, followed by immediate disposal of the tissue and hand hygiene.
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE). Procedure masks or surgical masks can be worn to contain respiratory secretions. Healthcare providers are also encouraged to wear these when examining a patient with symptoms of respiratory infection.

With cough etiquette top-of-mind, encourage compliance in your healthcare setting by:

  • Making tissues easily accessible, with no-touch receptacles nearby for their disposal
  • Ensuring alcohol-based hand sanitizers are conveniently available, and ensuring hand-washing supplies are available at all sinks
  • Placing reminder posters to “Cover Your Mouth” throughout the hospital
  • 2) Hand Hygiene

The CDC’s recommendations for hand hygiene focuses on ways to clean hands, and knowing when to do so. 

    • Washing hands with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. According to the CDC source, alcohol-based sanitizers are the preferred way to clean hands in most clinical situations unless they are visibly soiled.
      Performing hand hygiene multiple times during a care episode. Some clinical indications for hand hygiene include: 
      • Immediately before and after touching a patient or their immediate environment
      • Before performing an aseptic task or handling invasive medical devices 
      • After contact with bodily fluids or contaminated surfaces 
      • When the hands are visibly soiled
    • Placing hand sanitizers throughout the facility with reminders posted regarding the importance of their use.
      Wearing gloves is encouraged when contact with potentially infectious materials can be anticipated. While they’re not a substitute for proper hand hygiene, they may provide an additional layer of protection. 

Aside from the accessible placement of hand hygiene supplies like alcohol-based hand sanitizers, ensuring your team knows how and when to use gloves appropriately — and having them readily accessible and easily identifiable — may help boost compliance. 


  • 3) Environmental Hygiene

Environmental hygiene practices can be divided into two general themes: the cleaning and disinfection of rooms and surfaces, and the cleaning and disinfection of linens. According to a CDC guide to environmental cleaning, an environmental hygiene protocol will only be effective if applied within the larger framework of a facility-wide infection prevention program. 

Setting up clear policies and procedures that are backed by adequate training and awareness campaigns are what they recommend in the guide as a way to curb the environmental transmission of Hospital Acquired Infections (HAIs) in visitor, staff and patient areas of a healthcare facility. 

The CDC source recommends on-site supervision as the best way to ensure compliance from cleaning staff — provided your facility is adequately staffed. This should be coupled with a clear management structure, including organizational and reporting lines that ensure staff know whom they report to and can contact with any work-related challenges. 


  • 4) Care Coordination

According to The Becker’s Hospital Review, scrupulous care coordination is essential to ensure infection prevention practices are followed through every step of the care management chain. 

When putting a compliance protocol in place, the following is recommended:

  • Ensuring no department assumes another has followed IP procedures and neglects them as a result
  • Timing activities between teams, and ensuring accountability is specifically assigned and clearly recorded.  
  • Involving the patient, their visitors and other community members who frequent the hospital in the overall infection prevention practices.
  • 5) Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) 

PPE can block viral and bacterial contaminants from entering through the skin and mucous membranes. According to the FDA, it can also protect high-risk patients from exposure to potential infection introduced by visitors or healthcare workers. 

For PPE to effectively play its role in an infection control program, healthcare workers must be properly trained and regularly reminded on how to don and doff PPE correctly. Alongside regular training programs, you could make visual resources like posters from the National Infection Prevention and Control Manual (NIPCM) easily visible for on-duty staff, or refer them to easily-digestible refresher reads on the right and wrong ways to doff PPE. These practices will keep best practice top-of-mind, even for the busiest team. Persons visiting patients who are on Standard or Isolation Precautions must be instructed and supervised in proper donning and doffing procedures. Sometimes the physicians need to be reminded as well.


Working together, we can Outsmart Infection®

Even the most thoroughly adhered-to infection control practices must be supported by top quality medical equipment for best effect. With our range of disposable gloves, Ventyv® is pleased to be able to combine the best of both worlds — ease of use without compromising on world-class protection.

Combining best practices with top-quality medical gear and an uncompromising commitment to healthcare innovation helps us all to stay one step ahead of infection. 

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