Health Department to address hospital infections

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KOCHI: The health department will tackle hospital infections with the help of the national accreditation board for hospitals (NABH). It is finalizing a shortlist of district and taluk hospitals, where the process will be implemented first, as part of this.

The drive will be part of a pre-accreditation process, in which a team of NABH experts will identify the gaps in the physical infrastructure and the medical system. Following the identification of flaws, a team of experts from NABH will train a team of resource persons from each stream in the hospital.

“The aim is to bring in a medical protocol in the district and taluk hospitals, where invasive procedures are being done. This will be a pre-accreditation process, under which all issues from antibiotic uses, swab disposal, hand wash technique and disposing of medical waste will be addressed. It will go beyond the Safe-I method, which is being implemented in several hospitals,” health secretary Dr K Ellangovan said.

He said following discussions with the NABH chairman, the agency had sent in details of the MoU that could be signed.

“We are shortlisting the hospitals as well as planning the budget, which will be under the national rural health mission and quality improvement programme for hospitals.

Once the MoU is signed, the NABH team will arrive to train the team of doctors, nurses, para-medical staff etc for six-eight weeks.”

He said a budgetary allocation of Rs 1.6 lakh was expected for each district hospital as part of the process.

The department also plans to develop an antibiotic policy to contain hospital-acquired infections in both government and private hospitals.

“What is needed is surveillance of all your intensive care units and post-operative wards. You have to monitor and collect data on fevers, infections, surgeries and any other condition. Along with this, ensure that the infection control programme along with hand hygiene among staff, sterilization of various lines and tubes in the theatres are proper,” said Dr Sanjeev Singh, senior medical administrator, Amrita institute of medical sciences (AIMS), Kochi.

Singh said most hospitals did not agree that they had hospital-acquired infections.

This is simply because they had never addressed the issue.

“None of them have a data and hence they don’t know whether they have HAI. But this protocol, which is based on clinical surveillance, looks at all the procedures from hand hygiene, infections and isolation.”

The Indian medical association has already come out with a statement, asking the public to be careful about consumption of antibiotics, and that’s a beginning, he said.

HAND HYGIENE

Hands are the most common vehicle for transmission of organisms and “hand hygiene” is the single most effective means of preventing the horizontal transmission of infections among hospital patients and health care personnel.

1. Before touching a patient

2. Before aseptic procedures

3. After body fluid exposure/risk

4. After touching the patient

5. After touching the patient’s surroundings

6. Sterile gloves should be worn after hand hygiene procedure while touching mucous membrane and non-intact skin and performing sterile procedures e.g. arterial, central line and Foley catheter insertion

7. Practice hand hygiene whenever gloves are removed.

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