What are healthcare associated infections?

Healthcare associated infections (HAIs) are infections that patients get while being cared for in a healthcare facility. These HAIs are caused by microorganisms such as bacteria and viruses.

How do healthcare associated infections occur?

While HAIs are an ever-present factor in every health system, North Shore Radiology and Nuclear Medicine (NSRNM) follows a series of infection control procedures and processes to minimise them. Our practices participate in regular audits and training to ensure these processes and procedures are followed to minimise patients’ risk of contracting HAIs. Other reasons HAIs occur can be due to the procedure type, and the clinical work area. Correct aseptic techniques, good cleaning and disinfecting processes are important in reducing the risk of HAIs. NSRNM practice staff and contractors promote good aseptic and cleaning techniques across all NSRNM practices. Despite these efforts, some patients are at risk of an infection because they are very sick or have had an operation. Patients may also be at greater risk if they:

➢ Have broken skin areas (like a wound) or a device (like a catheter or IV line) inserted

➢ Have underlying medical conditions, such as diabetes

➢ Are very young or very old

➢ Have a weakened or compromised immune system

 
Can HAIs be prevented?

 

At NSRNM, we strive to reduce our patients’ risk of acquiring HAIs by:

➢ Encouraging all patients and staff to practice good hand hygiene

➢ Keeping the clinic environment clean

➢ Complying with aseptic techniques when undertaking interventional procedures (i.e. cannulation, biopsies)

➢ Using disposable single-use medical devices whenever possible

➢ Using the correct aseptic technique whenever completing invasive procedures

➢ Sterilising and/or high-level disinfecting of reusable invasive medical devices such as ultrasound probes

➢ Providing post-procedure care and information should an infection occur

➢ Providing staff education and training on infection control to minimise the risk of HAIs

The objective of NSRNM is to prevent HAIs where ever possible.

 

Hand hygiene:

 

Hand hygiene was been identified as the most important action in reducing the spread of infections. All practices across NSRNM have hand hygiene products located at reception desks and in toilet facilities. If you would like to access hand hygiene products while in our care, please ask our staff. If you are concerned that NSRNM staff have not performed hand hygiene, please feel free to ask them about this practice.

 

How can I help?

As a patient:

➢ Always participate in hand hygiene while at our practices.

➢ Let staff know if you are carrying any existing infections (such as MRSA) so that they can protect themselves and others from cross-contamination.

➢ Keep any wounds covered and dry.

➢ Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing with a tissue or your elbow.

➢ After an invasive procedure, follow the instructions provided by our staff regarding wound care. If you have any questions about this, please ask.

➢ Ask our staff about how we work to prevent infection if you have any concerns.

 

Carers and family:

➢ Anyone who accompanies you to your radiology appointment should be encouraged to participate in hand hygiene. If others are involved in any part of your healthcare, hand hygiene should be part of this process. See Hand Hygiene Australia five moments of hygiene for more detailed information.

 

What to look for?

Infections can present in a number of ways. If you are concerned that you may have a HAI after visiting a NSRNM practice you should speak to your medical practitioner as soon as possible. Please also let us know of your concerns by contacting NSRNM on (02) 8425 3666.

Symptoms of infection can include:

➢ Redness, pain or drainage at a wound or catheter site

➢ Fever

➢ Diarrhoea

 

Where can I find more information?

➢ The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Healthcare has information on preventing and controlling healthcare associated infections.

➢ Hand Hygiene Australia has information on the importance of hand hygiene.

➢ Consumer guides are available on specific healthcare associated infections on the National Health and Medical Research Council website.