Stay a Step Ahead of Hidden Threats of Winter Infections

GAMA Healthcare
Wednesday, 03 April, 2024


Stay a Step Ahead of Hidden Threats of Winter Infections

As the winter season looms, healthcare facilities brace themselves for heightened challenges in combating infectious diseases, especially the hidden threats posed by pathogens lurking on surfaces. GAMA Healthcare is proud to unveil the ‘Stay a Step Ahead’ of Winter Infections campaign, dedicated to equipping healthcare professionals with essential Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) knowledge and resources to effectively combat winter infections and ensure the safety of patients and residents.

At the core of our campaign lie three critical focus areas: surface decontamination, patient and resident hand hygiene, and antimicrobial resistance (AMR). These areas have been identified as pivotal in curbing infection transmission, mitigating the risk of healthcare associated infections (HAIs), and addressing the threat posed by hidden pathogens during the winter months.

Surface decontamination: In healthcare settings, stringent surface decontamination practices are paramount in preventing the spread of infections. High-touch surfaces such as bed rails, keyboards, and tables serve as breeding grounds for harmful pathogens, facilitating infection transmission. Inadequate room cleaning can elevate the risk of patients and residents being exposed to previous occupants’ microorganisms by up to 73%. Ensuring proper surface cleaning is critical to preventing infections. This IPC awareness campaign underscores the importance of adhering to rigorous cleaning protocols and employing effective disinfectants to mitigate this risk effectively, emphasising the significance of maintaining hygienic environments in healthcare settings.

Patient and resident hand hygiene: Maintaining optimal hand hygiene among patients and residents is another cornerstone in breaking the chain of infection. Studies reveal that 39% of patients carry at least one pathogen on their hands, including formidable foes like rhinoviruses, Gramnegative and Gram-positive bacteria, and even hepatitis A.

Promoting and monitoring hand hygiene practices have been shown to substantially reduce HAI rates. Through a range of educational resources and initiatives, our campaign aims to raise awareness about the importance of proper hand hygiene practices, empowering healthcare professionals to advocate for and support these protocols among those under their care.

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR): The emergence of antimicrobial resistance presents a formidable challenge to healthcare systems worldwide. Antibiotic misuse and overuse have fuelled the proliferation of resistant pathogens, rendering infections increasingly difficult to treat. By preventing HAIs, we can significantly curb the spread of resistant microbes. This campaign emphasizes the crucial role of implementing robust infection prevention strategies and surveillance measures to combat AMR and drive down infection rates. Statistics reveal that over 1,000 deaths in Australia are attributed to AMR-associated cases, primarily arising from resistant HAIs. Alongside other antimicrobial stewardship measures, employing appropriate disinfectants and techniques can effectively mitigate the risks of both HAIs and AMR. A comprehensive approach to address this pressing healthcare challenge is needed to safeguard patient well-being and healthcare sustainability.

FREE Infection Prevention Resources

As part of the ‘Stay a Step Ahead’ of Winter Infections, download educational resources and tools such as educational posters, articles, interactive crossword puzzles and more, all of which are designed to enhance knowledge and raise awareness of infection prevention practices.

Engage in IPC Knowledge-sharing competition

Healthcare professionals are invited to participate in our IPC Hot Tips Competition, which provides a platform to raise awareness about hidden infection threats, patient and resident hand hygiene, and AMR management strategies. Share your insights and ideas for infection prevention for a chance to WIN.

Educational Webinar

To further support our IPC colleagues, we will be hosting a webinar on winter preparedness, providing valuable insights and strategies for combating winter infections effectively.

References

Wozniak, T. M., Dyda, A., Merlo, G., & Hall, L. (2022). Disease burden, associated mortality and economic impact of antimicrobial resistant infections in Australia. The Lancet Regional Health - Western Pacific, 27, 100521. https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanwpc/article/PIIS2666-6065(22)00136-5/fulltext

Loveday, H., Tingle, A., & Wilson, J. (2020). Using a multi-modal Strategy to Improve Patient Hand Hygiene. American Journal of Infection Control, 49(6). https://www.ajicjournal.org/article/S0196-6553(20)31064-6/fulltext

Carling, P. C., & Huang, S. S. (2013). Improving Healthcare Environmental Cleaning and Disinfection Current and Evolving Issues. Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology, 34(5), 507–513. https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/infection-control-and-hospitalepidemiology/article/abs/improving-healthcare-environmental-cleaning-and-disinfectioncurrent-and-evolving-issues/149C7D943A348162ACAC18B69FC46225

Image credit: iStock.com/filo

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