Infection Control & Disease Prevention Advancements in Recent Years
There have been many advancements in recent years in the fields of disease prevention and infection control. From things like hand-washing guidelines to advanced disinfection and sterilization tools, the ways in which hospital acquired infections, or HAIs, are spread has dramatically decreased over time.
Cleanliness does more than just stop the spread of disease. It helps improve patient perceptions, gives hospitals and healthcare facilities better reputations, and — most importantly — improves patient safety. While there have been many advancements for disease prevention, here are some of the most valuable areas of growth in recent years.
Personal Protective Equipment
Throughout the majority of medical history, people weren’t aware that germs and disease in the body could be spread from bodily fluids onto others and around nearby areas. Because of this lack of awareness, there weren’t surgical “clothes” like scrubs or air masks that could help limit the spread of disease.
Now that we know better, personal protective equipment has been created to help stop the spread of infection from surgical rooms, sterilized spaces, and construction areas within healthcare facilities. Personal protective equipment prevents blood, saliva, and other bodily fluids from getting in contact with a person and then spread around the rest of the hospital.
Personal protective equipment also works as a barrier from germs not located in bodily fluids, but in the dust and debris created through hospital maintenance or construction. Even if you aren’t a doctor or nurse, you can be expected to wear some type of personal protective equipment if you work in hospital construction. It can be a requirement to wear certain items, such as:
- Shoe covers
- Face shields or masks
These items are often disposable and need to be gotten rid of immediately after exiting the work area to stop the spread of HAIs.
When we think of old examples of poor medical practices, one of the images that might jump to mind is old operating theaters where surgery was done in front of an unsterilized audience with dirty tools. In fact, some kind of post-surgical infection was considered normal for a long period of time due to a lack of hand hygiene.
While it seems so simple now, hand hygiene is an incredibly important aspect of disease prevention and infection control. Studies done over the years have shown that washing hands is one of the simplest and easiest ways to avoid the spread of infection.
However, even though we now know how important hand washing is, it still isn’t done enough in hospitals and healthcare facilities. Proper hand cleanliness, not sanitizing or rinsing, should be a priority for everyone in a hospital setting. When we don’t wash our hands — as healthcare professionals or as construction and maintenance workers — we allow the spread of HAIs from sources of infection that we know better than to leave unchecked. Or, in this case, unwashed.
Air and Room Disinfection
The ability to disinfect large areas and entire rooms is a big advancement that has been made over recent years. Similarly, being able to disinfect air itself is an important advancement that wouldn’t have been dreamed about years ago.
Large areas can collect germs and other pathogens that might be missed through a regular cleaning process, which is why continuous filtration devices are needed. Air can spread pathogens and bacteria around faster than almost any other method of infection, so having the tools and technologies available to stop air-borne disease is a must for healthcare facilities.
Thankfully we have tools like negative air machines, which can use negative air pressure to force air through a HEPA filter to catch pathogens. We also have devices like the Germbuster 5000, which filters air from waiting rooms, reception offices, and other common areas. Both of these tools disinfects and prevents the spread of disease in hospitals.
Ultraviolet sterilization is another advancement that has a great impact on reducing HAIs and the spread of disease in hospital settings. As with whole room and air disinfection, UV sterilization is a technology that has created a huge impact for infection control in modern years.
While UV light has been studied as a disinfectant since 1879, only in recent years has the technology advanced to the sterilization powerhouse it is today. Tools like the Far-UV Sterilray™ can physically destroy the bodies of pathogens, fungi, and bacteria. Far-UV technology is also more efficient and effective than other disinfection solutions like chemical cleaners.
While UV disinfection can be used in a number of places and industries, it has a higher impact in healthcare facilities where the light can be used to reduce HAIs and improve patient safety, which saves lives.
We have come a long way from the days of dirty surgical tools and open operating theaters, but there are still advancements and improvements to be made. HAIs still kill around 100,000 people each year. In order to prevent HAI deaths in your healthcare facility, download our guide on the Far-UV Sterilray™ and improve your infection control procedures today!