Hyderabad was chosen for the study because hospital infection rate here matched the national average of various studies in the country

Walk into any government hospital, chances are that the patients and the Health Care Workers (HCW) themselves can become victims of airborne infections. Senior doctors attribute this to the tardy pace in implementing the National Airborne Control Infection (NAIC) guidelines issued by the Government of India (GoI).

A pilot study to implement NAIC guidelines and reduce the rate of hospital infections among patients and HCWs was implemented in seven government health centres in Hyderabad in 2010-11. After the one-year study, the guidelines are yet to be implemented.

City hospitals

The study was conducted at Gandhi Hospital, Chest Hospital, Erragadda, Civil Dispensary, Jubilee Hills, Osmania ART Centre, Vaidya Vidhan Parishad Hospital, King Koti, district hospital at Sangareddy and PHC at Kondapur. The capital was chosen for the study because hospital infection rate here matched the national average of various studies in the country. For instance, incidence of TB infection in one year among HCWs and patients in outpatient facilities hovers between 4.2 per cent and 11.6 per cent.

In general wards, TB incidence is between 3.9 and 36.6 per cent and in inpatient wards, it is between 14.6 per cent and 99 per cent. In emergency rooms, TB infection incidence is between 26.6 to 31.9 per cent while in labs, infection rate among HCW is close to 78 per cent.

Action plan

“The project helped us chalk-out a State action plan to implement airborne infection control measures at government facilities. However, there is a need to make sure that the plan is implemented meticulously at hospitals,” points out Professor Dr. K. Subhakar of Osmania Medical College, who was a part of the study.

In addition to TB and viral infections, bacterial infections are also common. Bacteria like Salmonella causes typhoid, E.Coli leads to diarrhoea and Pseudonomas is known to cause infections in blood transfusions.

Guidelines

Some of the guidelines of the study included avoiding overcrowding at the waiting areas like outpatient services and pharmacy, keeping infectious patients separated from vulnerable patients like diabetics, HIV and TB positive, elders, children and pregnant women.

“Proper natural ventilation, minimum distance between hospital beds, keeping patients away from procedures like sputum collection, relocating waiting areas and frequent training to nurses and paramedical staff on observe are vital,” Dr. Subahakar says.

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