Globally, 1 in 10 patients contract an infection whilst receiving care, these are commonly referred to as Healthcare Associated Infection’s (HAI). HAI’s are one of the most common complications of healthcare and threaten the safety of patients, residents, visitors and staff. Infection prevention and control aims to prevent patients and health workers being harmed by these avoidable infections.
Bacteria, viruses and fungi are constantly being brought into healthcare facilities by unwell patients. If these infections spread to others receiving care, this is referred to as a healthcare associated infection (HAI). HAI's are one of the most common complications of healthcare, threatening the safety of patients, residents, visitors and staff.
The role of infection prevention and control (IPC) is to instigate activities, procedures and policies designed to reduce the spread of these infections, to prevent anyone being harmed by an avoidable infection.
Financial investment in your IPC programme will help ensure you have a well-equipped, well-resourced and well-educated healthcare team, which can have significant benefits for your healthcare facility. Here are 4 key reasons why.
1. Improved Patient Care
Patient safety is a crucial aspect of providing care. Patients in hospitals and residents in care homes are often immunocompromised, so contracting a HAI could exacerbate existing or underlying conditions, delay recovery and adversely affect their quality of life. Ultimately this prolongs their stay in facilities, leading to an increase in costs and a strain on nursing staff.
The World Health Organisation reported that effective infection prevention and control can reduce HAI’s by at least 30%2, so increased IPC investment can help ensure that your facility maintains a safe environment for healthcare delivery. There are hundreds of different quality improvement areas that extra investment can help address, some of these include:
- Improving environmental cleanliness, to ensure proper disinfection of all surfaces
- Providing additional personal protective equipment, such as gowns, gloves and masks
- Upgrading equipment to improve processes such as human waste management3
As IPC is an ever-changing field with evolving threats, procedures and practices need to be constantly re-evaluated. Ongoing investment in infection prevention can help you ensure that patient safety issues are quickly addressed, limiting avoidable patient harm and the costs associated with prolonged treatment.
2. Tackle Antibiotic Resistance
Globally, we face a rising burden of drug-resistant strains of bacteria. The overuse and misuse of antibiotics in recent years have resulted in an increasing number of microbes becoming resistant to antibiotics3.
Some of the most common HAI’s such as C. Difficile, MRSA and VRE have all shown resistance to antibiotics4. When a patient contracts a resistant infection in hospital, this puts their life at risk and may require additional antibiotic treatment, that could otherwise have been prevented.
Investment in IPC reduces the need for the use of antimicrobial medicine, lessening the potential for resistance developing and helping the global community better steward essential medicines.
3. Financial Savings
Cost-benefit analyses show that preventative approaches to treating infection and disease are the most cost-effective.
Healthcare associated infections are estimated to cost the NHS £1 billion a year5, which includes the cost of the extended length of a hospital stay, additional antibiotic treatments and sometimes even Government imposed fines.
With the direct cost of treating HAI’s so high, investing in infection prevention can result in significant savings for your healthcare facility. Whilst improving your IPC measures can require a higher initial outlay, many infection prevention practices can improve quality without a huge financial investment and the investment made can yield long term savings.
One example that demonstrates the cost-benefit of effective infection prevention measures, is switching to a disposable waste management system. Using single-use disposable pulp containers and hospital macerators, rather than reusable bedpans and bedpan washers, is proven to significantly limit the spread of infection, which in turn reduces the cost of additional treatment. Furthermore, hospital macerators cost up to 60% less in capital outlay than a bedpan washer, consume 60% less water and use 96.5% less energy.
This is just one example of the many ways that additional investment in effective infection prevention measures can financially benefit your healthcare facility long term.
4. Benefit Care Givers
Healthcare workers, who care for patients suffering from dangerous and infectious diseases, are putting themselves at risk of infection. This has been clearly demonstrated throughout the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, where thousands of healthcare professionals, have themselves become unwell and sadly in some instances, died.
The risk to healthcare professionals can be considerably lessened by good infection control procedures and practices.
All of the processes and procedures implemented to protect patients, such as PPE, improved environmental cleaning and improved IPC equipment also protect healthcare professionals providing care. Increased investment in IPC will pay for both the equipment and education necessary, to ensure that healthcare workers are best prepared to treat patients, without putting themselves at risk.
Infection Prevention with Vernacare
At Vernacare, reducing the risk of infection for patients and healthcare professionals is at the heart of everything we do. We are transforming the standards of care with solutions for human waste management, environmental cleaning and patient bathing.
With a large body of evidence to demonstrate that Vernacare’s solutions reduce the risk of infection, find out how investing in Vernacare could benefit the patients, residents, visitors and staff of your healthcare facility here.