“Your hands are vectors…improper washing of hands is one of the primary reasons why hospital-acquired or healthcare-associated infections occur,” said J. Shanmugam, chairman, Puducherry chapter of International Medical Sciences Academy, at a continuing medical education programme held recently at Clinic Nallam.

These hospital-acquired, healthcare associated infections (HAI) occur after 24 hours of admission and while medical staff discharge their duties. It also includes infection occurring about three weeks after a patient is discharged from hospital.

Dr. Shanmugam, who is also professor of microbiology at Sri Manakula Vinayagar Medical College and Hospital, said: “Incidence of HAI is 2 to 5 per cent in developed countries while in developing countries, it is 5 to 40 per cent. Almost 30 per cent of doctors and nurses do not wash their hands properly. Hands are a vector of infections.”

Protective equipment

HAI can be controlled through proper hand hygiene and use of personal protective equipment such as gown, goggles, mask and gloves, educating patients, relatives and healthcare workers and observing aseptic conditions.

With more hospitals worldwide constituting a healthcare-acquired infection control committee, Dr. Shanmugam said any hospital with 200 beds or more should have such a committee.

“The committee should have representatives from relevant departments who plan, execute, monitor, survey, evaluate, educate and update the manual. A committee’s planning should ideally begin right from the construction of the hospital.” With an effective committee, up to 40 per cent of infections can be controlled, he added.

More In: Puducherry