While raising, caring for, and guiding kids through life is rewarding like few other things may be, any parent or teacher will readily tell you that kids are germ factories. Babies drool. Toddlers gnaw on toys and plenty of other things not meant for mouths. Then they sneeze, cough and touch everything and everybody with hands covered with any number of things that should probably be washed off. This is part of being a kid (as are tummy aches, runny noses and so on).
When dangerous health conditions strike a place where kids interact with each other these inevitable childhood behaviors can make things very serious – and it can happen in pediatric care settings. In fact, the Canadian Pediatric Society undertook a recent study that labels the spread of infection in medical pediatric settings as a growing problem.
Kids are vulnerable, so working in a pediatric setting requires extra caution and special measures to minimize infection risk. Here is a list of infection control best practices for pediatric caregivers.
Practice Good Hand Hygiene
The benefits of proper hand hygiene throughout any hospital environment are well established (as you can read about in the Ventyv® hand hygiene blog). In pediatric settings, standards like making hand washing stations and hand sanitizers available are equally as important. Beyond that, having kid-friendly signage encouraging children of reading age- and the parents of those too young to read - to wash their hands, can also be helpful.
Disinfect Equipment and Surfaces Thoroughly
Dealing with young children means dealing with dirty diapers and occasional diaper leaks - especially when the kids are sick with diarrhea. Excreta can easily spread infection, so it’s important to be vigilant about sterilizing and disinfecting surfaces and equipment that children come in contact with.
Take PPE Usage Seriously
Little kids can be infected with grownup illnesses, so using surgical masks, gowns, and goggles in procedures where there may be body fluids projected from a young patient is as important as with patients of any age.
Wear Gloves as Appropriate
Gloves should be used when anticipating coming into contact with bodily fluids and mucous membranes. If a caregiver happens to have broken skin on his or her hands, gloves are a must there too – to prevent the young patient’s immune system from being compromised by an infection the caregiver is harboring.
Find the Right Balance Between Childcare and Infection Control
Allowing kids to play together, share toys and socialize in a waiting room can reduce patient anxiety (and parental stress). It also has its risks. Letting children play can spread communicable diseases between them. At the end of the day, it’s up to the caregiver to thoughtfully and carefully evaluate if the benefits of waiting room play outweigh the risks.
Don’t Forget to Clean Toys
Sterilizing surfaces is an infection control strategy, but waiting room toys are easy to overlook. Because toys come into direct contact with child after child, it’s critical that they are properly and thoroughly cleaned.
Schedule Patients to Minimize Waiting Room Crowding
Smart operational strategies can be as critical to infection control as is adherence to proper hygiene and disinfection protocol. Thoughtful scheduling in a pediatric office is one of these strategies. Fewer people, specifically kids, in a waiting room at one time means fewer kids transmitting illnesses directly to one another, which is better for all patients and caregivers.
Hand Hygiene and Infection Control For All Ages
In your pediatric care facility, patient health and caregiver health are equally critical. The Ventyv® line of hand hygiene products is optimal for making sure your little patients and your caregivers are both protected.