Infection Control is championed right across the Trust
Building on the National Patient Safety Agency (NPSA) ‘Clean your hands’ campaign and Department of Health ‘Saving lives’ initiative, our focus has been on Infection Control responsibilities at all levels. There are now Infection Control leads at board level, senior nurses and clinicians at directorate level, and nurses at ward level.
The micro-organisms that cause infection move with patients from the community into hospital and out into the community again. It is therefore important to ensure good communication between primary and secondary care, between the RD&E and the community hospitals. Unlike many other areas, there is a single infection control team employed by this Trust which provides a service to the RD&E and the Exeter, East Devon and Mid Devon localities of the Devon Primary Care Trust and the whole of the Devon Partnership Trust. This team also works closely with the Devon Health Protection Unit which provides infection control advice to nursing and residential homes. This approach ensures good communication, consistent advice and a consistent approach to infection control practice.
On the clinical side, matrons and doctors have undertaken thorough reviews using the Department of Health ‘Saving Lives’ assessment tools, of frequently performed invasive procedures where, by their very nature, there is a higher risk of infection. Policies, procedures and practice for urinary catheterisation, central and peripheral vein drips, surgical wounds and ventilator assisted pneumonia have been checked.
Progress has also been made ‘behind the scenes’ with Trust laboratory technicians being able to swiftly confirm whether or not a patient has got Novovirus, the diarrhoea and vomiting bug. Knowing this one way or the other at an early stage of admission, allows us to take prompt action to minimise the spread of the virus if infection is confirmed or in the event of test results being negative, giving the all clear and being able to lift infection control restrictions, such as ward closure.
There is also a commitment to Infection Control in non-clinical areas including food hygiene, portering and housekeeping services and waste management.
As well as good practice here and now, the Infection Control team has been involved in the design and equipping of existing and new healthcare facilities to ensure the environment encourages effective infection control.
In new facilities, it is essential to ensure installation of washable surfaces, the right number and location of handwashing sinks; fitting doors which can be opened or closed without having to touch knobs or handles, and having sufficient space between beds. These are just some of the simple but effective decisions taken for example with the new Centre for Women’s Health at Wonford.