1.8 Summary

Infection control and prevention practices are a critical component of patient safety in the health care environment. In order to protect the public and cut health care costs, all health care professionals must take part in preventing infections before they occur. The use of routine practices, effective hand hygiene techniques, additional precautions, and sterile procedures contribute to enhancing patient safety and eliminating significant health care risks such as health care-associated infections. If effectively applied, infection control and prevention practices will prevent and minimize transmission of infections in health care settings.

Key Takeaways

  • Hand hygiene is the single most important part of infection prevention and control practices in the health care setting.
  • Plan your care: each health care worker is responsible to perform a risk assessment before every contact with a patient and/or patient’s environment to ensure the proper control measures are in place to prevent transmission of infections.
  • The most common sites for HAIs are the urinary tract and the respiratory tract. It is vital to implement preventive measures at all times during patient care or during procedures related to these areas.
  • Be aware of potential risk factors of patients that make them more susceptible to infections. Susceptible patients include very young children; patients who are elderly, nutritionally deficient, or chronically ill; patients undergoing medical treatments such as chemotherapy or taking medications such as high doses of steroids; and individuals who are already ill or have open wounds (Perry et al., 2014).
  • Be aware how the chain of infection works and implement ways to break the chain of infection in practice.
  • Practise strict adherence to the principles of sterile technique to prevent and minimize infections during sterile and invasive procedures.

Suggested Online Resources

1. BC Centre for Disease Control: Blood and body fluid exposure management. This resource outlines risk assessment and guidelines for potential exposures of percutaneous, permucosal, and non-intact skin to HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C.

2. British Columbia: Home and community care – Policy manual. This manual offers guidelines for working in the community and residential care.

3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Antibiotic/antimicrobial resistance. This resource covers common viruses/bacteria found in the health care setting, such as:

  • Clostridium difficile infection (CDI)
  • Carbapenemase-producing organisms (CPO)
  • Multi-drug-resistant organisms (MDRO) or antibiotic-resistant organisms (ARO): MRSA/VRE
  • Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)
  • Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS)
  • Ebola virus disease (EVD)

4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Guidelines for disinfection and sterilization in healthcare facilities. The goal of this document is to reduce the rates of health care associated infections. Each recommendation listed is categorized according to scientific evidence, theoretical rationale, and applicability.

5. Infection and Prevention Control Canada. (IPAC): Evidence-based guidelines. This website offers the latest reports, guidelines, standards, and policies related to infection control issues. U.S. and international resources are also provided. These documents may be used to support your own documentation practice and best practices.

6. Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotion: Routine practices and additional precautions. This excellent  resource provides routine practice and additional precautions in all health care settings. These were developed by the Ontario Provincial Infectious Disease Advisory Committee (PIDAC) on Infection Prevention and Control (IPC).

7. Provincial Infection Control Network of British Columbia (PICNet): BC infection control and hand hygiene module. This course teaches the basic principles of infection control in the health care system, sharps management, hand hygiene, blood and body fluid exposure and cleanup, the proper use of personal protective equipment, and isolation precautions.

8. Provincial Infection Control Network of British Columbia (PICNet): Infection control guidelines.Providing health care to the client living in the community.
PICNet Educational Links.This document is intended to provide guidance in the writing of policies pertaining to infection prevention and control within community health care, and home care programs and settings.

9. Public Health Agency of Canada: Hand hygiene practices in healthcare settings. This excellent Canadian resource covers infectious disease prevention and control policies.

10. World Health Organization: Clean care is safer care. This website provides links to the five moments in hand hygiene, diagrams on hand washing and hand rubs, and leaflets for teaching.


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Clinical Procedures for Safer Patient Care by British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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