As social distancing policies among the public were evolved to control COVID-19 pandemic, the direct public health role of HIC (Hospital Infection Control) should also be considered.
There are now emerging evidence of hospitals as high-risk areas for outbreaks of SARS-CoV-2. There are high chances of hospitals being infectious hotspots if rigorous infection control processes are not implemented immediately. For this HICC (Hospital Infection Control Committee) should actively participate to assure zero transmission of COVID-19 through their own level.
Healthcare associated infections (HAI) are recognized as the major cause of morbidity and mortality globally. In order to deliver safer and quality health care system, hospital must adopt Hospital infection control program. For that, HICC is an integral building block element for establishing, maintaining and monitoring, the surveillance of hospital infection, worker’ safety, hospital waste management, spillage management etc.
HICC is also responsible for developing effective policy, procedures and standard, day to day monitoring in order to prevent healthcare associated infections and implementation of HIC manual. Developing SOP (Standard Operating Procedures) like safety manual and training program which helps to build those skills that every hospital staff needs to improve during patient care in a hospital.
HIC program also helps to identify risks and prevent the spread of nosocomial infections. Hospital infection policies should be implemented, practiced and monitored by HICC on a regular basis. HICC council should extend throughout a specified department like Medical Superintendent, Head of Microbiology, Nurses, CSSD (Central Sterile Service Department) head and all the clinical head staff from each department and the hospital administration should be notified and involved.
Active participation shall be done at least for high risk areas like intensive care units, operations theatres, dialysis unit, clinical laboratory as well as the house keeping. Standard precautions should be applied to each and every hospital staff as well as the patients in order to prevent hospital acquired transmission of infections and life-threatening diseases like SARS-CoV-2.
Several strategies like maintenance of hand hygiene, proper use and safe disposal of PPE’s, proper disposal of biomedical waste generated from hospital, spillage management, maintenance of safe working environment and implementation of safe working practice.
Limiting the number of visitors would also contribute to abide by the transmission of nosocomial infections.
In current pandemic situation, preventing intra hospital infection and transmission of COVID 19 among the frontline workers is under priority. As SARS-CoV-2 infection is highly contagious that place frontline workers at risk for acquiring infection. Strategies and policies to protect health care workers should be described clearly in SOP. It is very much important to adopt all the necessary standard precautions among front line workers in order to minimize infection.
Hands, mobile phones, pens, aprons etc. also serve as the vectors for the nosocomial transmission of microorganisms. Therefore, repeated use of disinfectant and sanitizers are highly recommended.
The K-N95 mask is recommended in order to encounter the possible microorganism. When mask is donned, it should not be removed or touched during medical shift. Also, PPE should not be removed during the shift and strict precautions should be followed during doffing the PPE.
Post shift hygiene is also equally important to the frontline workers. Health care facilities should have a proper shower room that should be disinfected after every use. It is advisable to have a safety manual in order to minimize the risk of transmission of diseases.
Nevertheless, this “zero tolerance” approach to nosocomial infection, transmission of infectious disease like COVID-19 is critical to not just the hospital’s mission to protect its staff but also to national strategy for containing COVID-19 pandemic.
(Clinical Microbiologist, 7th Level Technologist at Palpa Hospital, COVID Lab)