Redefining Infection Control

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World Antibiotics Awareness Week

Last week marked World Antibiotic Awareness Week.

Antibiotic resistance, according to the World Health Organisation, is one of the biggest threats to global health and represents the most urgent drug resistant trends.

It can compromise the treatment of infectious diseases and it has stalled progress in new treatments and medical breakthroughs.

Although antibiotic resistance occurs naturally over time as bacteria evolves, the abuse of antibiotics through misuse/overuse and in the food industry is accelerating the process to dangerous levels and the medical world is racing to find a solution.

Antibiotic resistance is causing untreatable infections to spread and threatens to return us to a time when minor injuries and infections could prove fatal.

The message for this year’s World Antibiotic Awareness Week is simple – seek medical advice before taking antibiotics.

Depending on where you live in the world access to medications and specifically antibiotics is controlled by prescription so access is already controlled.

However in Canada and the US certain antibiotics can be purchased over the counter.

This poses a problem as improper/unnecessary use can potentially cause more problems than they solve. If you believe patients are likely to use antibiotics without sufficient reason the following guidance should be provided:

  • Fever
    If you are experiencing a fever, shakes and chills you could have a bacterial infection however they are common in viral infections too so it is better to seek the advice of a medical professional rather than take medication you don’t need.
  • Duration
    Rushing to get antibiotics may not only be the wrong course of action but may leave you susceptible to bacterial infection.  How long have you been unwell for? Whilst a bacterial infection can take an extended period of time to get over, so can viruses.
  • Mucous
    However, this isn’t a reliable diagnosis method so medical advice should be sought.  Nasal discharge – as it’s charmingly known – is common with both viral and bacterial infections but the colour can indicate what kind of infection you have. Yellow and green mucous could indicate a bacterial infection
  • Sore Throat
    Antigen tests are a quick and easy way of determining for certain.  A sore throat is a common symptom of a cold however a sore throat without other cold-like symptoms or pustules (white spots) is a sign of a bacterial infection which will need treating with antibiotics.
  • Expert Assessment
    A simple swab test can be cultured over 48 hours will give a definitive answer.  Medical practitioners will forgo this if there is sufficient evidence of a bacterial infection.  The only sure way of determining whether or not someone has a bacterial infection is to be tested for one.

In clinical terms an antibiotic resistant infection poses a tremendous risk to the overall health and wellbeing of patients and clinicians alike.

Antimicrobial stewardship improves patient outcomes by limiting the prescription of antibiotics and thus reduces microbial resistance and thus decreases the chances of antibiotic resistant bacteria from infecting patients.

A major infection like clostridium difficile can spread through a ward – or an entire hospital – with alarming ease if the right procedures aren’t observed so limiting the likelihood through antimicrobial stewardship is the first line of defence.

Should someone become infected with an antibiotic resistant infection the window to isolate them from other patients is incredibly brief in order to prevent an outbreak.

It is equally important to ensure that you have a robust infection control procedure underpinned by an adequately equipped dirty utility room.

Ideally your isolation rooms should have a bedpan washer or pulp macerator provision to prevent infectious material being carried through the ward or hospital in order to safely dispose of it.

The right solution with passive safety features will reduce the likelihood of any harmful microbes making it on to the skin or clothing of clinicians, limiting further infection.

For more information on World Antimicrobial Awareness Week and how you can do your part, visit the World Health Organisation website.

If you would like to discuss how we can support your facility with a dirty utility or infection control solution contact us today.