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Infection control - time for a clean sweep?

Riverside Medical Practice received a complaint from Mrs A, a pregnant 35-year-old patient. She had recently seen GP Dr F for an antenatal examination. Mrs A was unhappy with the care that she had received and complained about numerous infection control issues during her visit:

  • When Dr F examined her, she noticed that he didn’t wash his hands before he palpated her abdomen, or afterwards.
  • She was asked to lie down on an examination couch covered with a cloth blanket and a soiled pillow. She enquired how often the blankets were washed.
  • When she visited the patient’s bathroom in order to provide a specimen she was disgusted with the cleanliness of the room and that only a ‘grubby looking towel’ was provided for drying her hands.

Mrs A changed practice. The secretary later heard that Mrs A told her friends she left the practice as she didn’t want to bring her newborn baby to unclean premises.

What if Mrs A is not alone? What if patients are leaving your practice because of inadequate infection control practices?

Do you provide patient care in a clean and safe environment where the risk of infection to patients and staff is kept to the minimum? Have you a robust policy for the prevention and spread of infection within your practice?

Healthcare associated infection (HCAI)

HCAIs are infections that are acquired as a result of healthcare interventions and can lead to serious illness, long term disability and even death. HCAIs are not just confined to hospitals: general practice teams need to have suitable arrangements in place to ensure patients experience care in a clean environment.

Risk associated with infection control

MPS undertakes Clinical Risk Self Assessments (CRSAs)1of general practices, which are a systematic approach to identifying risks and developing practical solutions to ensure quality practice and prevent harm to patients. Data collected from 153 CRSAs conducted during 2013 across the UK and Ireland reveals that 89% of practices visited had issues regarding infection control. The main risks highlighted are detailed in the graph:

Infection Control graph

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