Infection control training literally begins at home. We have our parents teaching us to use handkerchiefs to cover our mouth and nose while coughing or sneezing. We are also taught the importance of wearing clean clothes and keeping clean habits by bathing everyday, sometimes even twice a day. These are basic rules for life to make sure we can keep infections at bay.
Even though we follow these, sometimes we catch an infection and fall ill. A germ that grows on or in a person leads to an illness, this is called an infection. Sometimes we can cure them at home and sometimes we need a hospital or a medical unit. Walking into a hospital gives you a feeling of safety and security; mostly because the environment is so clean and sterile. You as a patient or as a visitor can do a few things to ensure infection control.
• Hand hygiene: Wash and wash again if need be. Running water, soap and alcoholic gel, make sure there is enough around for you to feel good. Ensure that your visitors too wash their hands. Feel free to ask the hospital staff if they have washed their hands before checking the patient.
• In case you are admitting someone in a hospital or a medical unit, keep a check on allergies or medicines that they could have reactions to. If you have the time, on the way to the hospital, call them and tell them about the patient's problem. They will be in a better position to help and react.
• Keep the area around you clean. Throw away used cups, tissues or left-over food. Make sure a child's toys are kept in the individual storage area provided. The Infection Control team at the hospital or medical unit work very hard to keep it pristine clean; help them by doing your bit. In case there is ever a chance that you find the area around the patient untidy or dirty, immediately speak to the senior nurses.
• In case an area is being kept under close inspection due to an outbreak of an infection, keep your movements at a minimal. Make sure your visitors are also warned about the outbreak when they come in.
• Take a look at the kind of equipment being used. Is it clean? Hopefully your answer should be yes. Make sure needles are freshly opened out of their packaging and are discarded after one use.
• Mention to the authorities if the patient has any kind of bloodborne disease, such as HIV. It will not make a difference to the quality of treatment. But it will ensure than the staff don't let that illness spread.
Infection control systems are in place is almost all hospitals or medical units. It is essential that we know a few basics about infection control. This is in the interest of the larger good of people. If you can take a certified course in it, that fantastic! Until then keep the above points in mind and stay well.