Effective infection prevention and control is vital to providing high quality health care for patients and a safe working environment for those that work in any healthcare setting. Everybody working in a healthcare facility, including administrators, staff, patients and carers has the responsibility to understand the means of transmission of infectious organisms and knowing how and when to apply the basic principles of infection prevention and control.
- The principles of infection prevention and control (hand hygiene) and standard and transmission-based precautions are constant across the health sector. However, the translation of hospital policies and procedures to general practices and other office- and community-based practice settings is often not appropriate due to differing risks, equipment and staff factors.
- The Infection prevention and control standards for general practices are intended as a guide to assist health professionals and other staff implementing infection prevention and control procedures.
- Employers and managers have a responsibility under work health and safety laws to protect their staff from injury at work.
- All members of the practice team need to be educated about their role in preventing the spread of infection.
- Education includes teaching the principles of infection prevention and control, checking competency (where a person competent to check observes others), and performing ongoing auditing and education of staff.
All members of the practice team are involved in the practice’s infection prevention and control program. Their duties include:
- Managing blood or body fluid exposure (appropriate to their role)
- Blood and body fluid spills management
- Hand hygiene
- A regular cleaning schedule describing the frequency of cleaning, products and procedures in clinical and non-clinical areas of the practice
- The provision of sterile instruments whether by the use of disposables or by on-site or off-site sterilisation of reusable instruments
- Procedures for all aspects of the sterilisation process if instruments are sterilised on-site or for those instruments sterilised off-site, procedures covering both their sterilisation and transport. There should be procedures for validating or obtaining evidence of validation for all on and off-site aspects of sterilisation
- Procedures for waste management including the safe storage and disposal of clinical waste (including sharps)
- The appropriate use of standard and additional precautions
- provision and use of personal protective equipment as required
- Prevention of disease in the workplace by serology and immunisation