Preventing Infections

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It’s important to have good hygiene measures and practices in place to ensure good habits and to avoid the risk and spread of infections. It’s a good idea to review a few basic principles that are proven to help lower infection rates.

Standard Precautions 

Standard precautions is a general term to serve a warning that any bodily fluid may be harmful, and you should treat those bodily fluids as such. Handwashing must be done before and after patient care. Use your PPE: gloves, wear a mask, eye protection, or a face shield when doing procedures where bodily fluids may be leaked or sprayed. A gown may also be required for added protection in certain situations. 

Prevent Needle Stick Injuries

When handling needles for injections or finger sticks, making sure you don’t get stuck post-injection is the crucial step. The biggest rule of thumb is to NEVER recap a needle and have your sharps container within reach. You should never have to open a door and leave the room to dispose of a needle; the quicker you can dispose of a needle into a puncture-proof container, the better. However, in the event of a needle stick, simply wash the area with warm water and antiseptic soap and cover with the appropriate dressing. Also, make sure to inform your supervisor.

Hand Hygiene

This is likely the most important hygiene principle to date. Hand washing is essential to reducing the spread of germs. Hand washing should occur before and after touching the patient, even if gloves and hand sanitizer are available. Anytime hands are visibly soiled or you are aware you’ve touched a high-risk item, you must wash your hands. Hand washing also needs to be done after touching wounds and specimens on any patient care items. Make sure to scrub all hand surfaces for a minimum of 20 seconds and dry with a single-use disposable towelette. 

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