Infection Control

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Epidemiology is the study of factors affecting the health and illness of populations, and serves as the foundation and logic of interventions made in the interest of public health and preventative medicine. It is considered a cornerstone methodology of public health research, and is highly regarded in evidence-based medicine for identifying risk factors for disease and determining optimal treatment approaches to clinical practice. Surveillance is defined as the ‘ongoing systematic, collection, analysis, and interpretation of health data essential to planning, implementation and evaluation of public health practice closely integrated with timely dissemination of this data to those who need to know’. Surveillance means to watch over with great attention, authority and often with suspicion. (Shweta 2002)

Monitoring adherence with hand hygiene and providing staff with feedback on their performance is strongly recommended and frequently suggested in recent literature. There are a range of tools available for assisting staff in calculating hand hygiene compliance and a number are currently under development. The hand hygiene audit tool is the authors choice and has been successfully used at Lewisham Hospital and is adapted from the NPSA (2004) clean your hands campaign. 85% of hospital infections are caused by contamination of hands and this costs the Trusts between 1.2-1.9 billion pounds a year. (DOH 2008). Hand washing is widely acknowledged to be the single most important activity for reducing the spread of infection, yet evidence suggests that many healthcare professionals do not use the correct technique. This means that areas of the hands can be missed. The author feels that this is crucial in preventing and controlling infection and this is why the particular audit has been used. (See appendix 1) The local Trust has implemented ‘bare below the elbows policy’ so the author has adapted the hand hygiene audit slightly to reflect this. It was implemented...
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