Constant State of Readiness

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The page below is a sample from the LabCE course Infection Prevention and Control for Healthcare Personnel. Access the complete course and earn ASCLS P.A.C.E.-approved continuing education credits by subscribing online.

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Constant State of Readiness

Healthcare-associated infections, also known as HAIs, can occur in any healthcare setting. Healthcare workers must adhere to established infection prevention and control practices to minimize and help to prevent healthcare-associated infections. This strategy will also help to prepare against emerging, evolving, or re-emerging infectious disease pathogens that may be encountered today, tomorrow, or in the future.
In 2014, the largest outbreak of the Ebola virus in history occurred in West Africa. Between September and October of the same year, four cases of the Ebola virus were diagnosed in the United States. These events should serve as a critical reminder of the need for a complete understanding of infection control and prevention practices necessary to prevent personal exposure and to prevent the transfer of the organism(s) to other individuals. A patient with a substantially more infectious disease could enter any healthcare facility, at any time, without any advance notice or knowledge. The best defense is the consistent use of infection prevention and control practices, which include:
  • Strict adherence to Standard Precautions
    • Diligent practice of proper hand hygiene procedures
    • Rigid compliance with all requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA's) Bloodborne Pathogens (BBP) standard, including the use of:
      • Engineering controls
      • Work practice controls
      • All necessary personal protective equipment (PPE)
      • Handling and disposal of sharps
      • Waste disposal
    • Routine environmental cleaning
    • Proper handling, processing, and transport of used linens
    • Respiratory hygiene and cough etiquette
  • Use of transmission-based precautions when necessary, including:
    • Contact precautions
    • Droplet precautions
    • Airborne precautions
  • Strategies to control multidrug-resistant organisms (MRDOs)
Individual healthcare facilities will make infection control management decisions based on their transmission risk, including the characteristics of their patient population, the intensity of care provided, trends in community-acquired infections (CAIs) and HAIs, and emerging infectious disease threats.