International Infection Prevention Week

Ashely N. White, Ph.D.

Ashely N. White, Ph.D.

You First Services Research Scientist

International Infection Prevention Week

October 17th-23rd, 2021

This week marks the 35th Annual International Infection Prevention Week (IIPW). Established in 1986 by President Ronald Reagan, this weeklong recognition was created to highlight the importance of infection prevention and to help keep healthcare professionals, administrators, legislators, and consumers updated each year on how they can personally contribute and maintain proper prevention. Every successive year has its own individual theme or focus and this year it’s “Make Your Intention Infection Prevention”. This theme was chosen to call attention to the science behind infection prevention and how we can use this knowledge to inspire individuals to support infection preventionists.

Who are Infection Preventionists?

Infection preventionists (IPs) are professionals who make sure healthcare workers and patients are meeting all the proper requirements in place to prevent infections. IPs play a crucial role in keeping the population safe, healthy, and thriving. Most IPs are healthcare professionals such as nurses, epidemiologists, microbiologists, and doctors, who work to prevent bacteria and viruses from spreading within healthcare facilities. These individuals are on a constant lookout to identify patterns of infection within their facility, when detected they then work to advise how prevention can be achieved, thereby resulting in reduced occurrence of healthcare-associated infections (HAIs).

Why is it important to reduce HAIs?

HAIs are infections that patients can contract while receiving treatment for medical or surgical conditions within a healthcare facility. HAI’s pose a significant threat to patient safety and in response most healthcare facilities have made the prevention and reduction of these infections a top priority. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 75,000 deaths associated with HAIs will occur each year. This number is highly concerning, especially when considering the fact that a majority of HAI are preventable.

How can HAIs be prevented?

There are three main elements that lead to the transmission of infection within a healthcare setting:

      1. A source of infecting microorganisms
      2. A susceptible host (patients who are ill, physically vulnerable, or immunocompromised)
      3. A means of transmission for the organism to the host (medical devices, healthcare personnel, visitors, etc)

The way in which HAIs can be best prevented is by focusing on these 3 elements, especially 1 and 3 since the state of the host (2) is most often unavoidable. The source and transmission of the infecting microorganism need to be properly eliminated. IPs are in place to better identify the source and to develop practices that will best limit transmission. The obvious practices include washing hands and maintaining proper personal protective equipment (PPE) like gloves and surgical masks/gowns. However, studies have revealed that most HAIs are associated with contaminated medical devices. Careful cleaning and disinfection of medical devices are essential to assuring infection prevention and patient safety.  Unfortunately, traditional manual disinfectants are often sub-optimal when it comes to effective protection against the spread of pathogens. Such disinfectants are not able to fully penetrate and disinfect hard-to-reach areas, and often leave behind a film of residue. This results in inconsistent device disinfection and increased transmission of infection. However, we are pleased to report that this inconsistency can be addressed with the use of GloTran™.

Why GloTran™?

GloTran™ is an automated disinfection system based on cold plasma disinfection technology. GloTran™ has the ability to penetrate into hard-to-reach areas and mated surfaces. The gas plasma also removes all residues and detoxifies contaminants. The treatment is dry and cool, safe for many non-critical devices and electronics that cannot be treated with wet or high-temperature disinfection methods. The process is automated and effortless and delivers consistent results.

How can you support Infection Preventionists?

It is true that Infection Preventionists in the healthcare system are professionally qualified, however, that does not mean that individuals outside of the healthcare system cannot support and contribute to this cause. There are various preventive measures that any individual can easily implement in their everyday lives. These prevention measures consist of but are not limited to the following:

  1. Not sharing personal items (food, glasses, makeup, headphones, etc.)
  2. Covering your mouth when you are coughing
  3. Sneezing into your elbow
  4. Washing your hands (especially after bathroom use and before washing or cooking food)
  5. Wearing proper PPE when you are sick or in the presence of immunocompromised individuals
  6. Not picking at or exposing healing wounds (open wounds increase susceptibility to infection)
  7. Staying home when you are sick (always keep your germs to yourself)

You may be thinking these measures are common knowledge, we all know these measures should be taken, but are we actually practicing them? So, our challenge to you is to be mindful of your actions and dedicate this week to this year’s theme and make every intention of infection prevention! Even better, after this week, try adhering to these measures all year round, and together we can all support infection preventionists… in the end everyone benefits.

Learn how GloTran can transform your disinfection process today! 

References  
  1. Collins AS. 2008. Preventing Health Care–Associated Infections. In RG H (ed), Patient Safety and Quality: An Evidence-Based Handbook for Nurses. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Rockville, MD.
  2. Who are Infection Preventionists?, on Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology. https://apic.org/monthly_alerts/who-are-infection-preventionists/. Accessed October 13
  3. 2021. 2021 International Infection Prevention Week on Infection Prevention and You. https://infectionpreventionandyou.org/iipw/. Accessed October 13.
  4. History of IIPW, on Infection Prevention and You https://infectionpreventionandyou.org/iipw/history/. Accessed October 13.
  5. Magill SS, Edwards JR, Bamberg W, Beldavs ZG, Dumyati G, Kainer MA, Lynfield R, Maloney M, McAllister-Hollod L, Nadle J, Ray SM, Thompson DL, Wilson LE, Fridkin SK. 2014. Multistate point-prevalence survey of health care-associated infections. N Engl J Med 370:1198-208.

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