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Preventing infections

It starts with you

Patients and the public have a role to play in preventing the spread of bugs that cause infection.

The two key steps for infection prevention and control are:

  1. Good hand hygiene
  2. Appropriate use of antibiotics

Infection prevention and control and antibiotic resistance are two parts of the same problem.

Prevention and control

It is estimated that between 30 - 50% of healthcare-associated infections can be avoided.

Preventing and controlling healthcare-associated infections requires all facilities, services and healthcare workers to comply with HIQA National Standards for the Prevention and Control of Healthcare-Associated Infections.

The key interventions that can significantly reduce healthcare-associated infections are good hand hygiene practices, proper use of antibiotics as well as proper use of intravascular (IV) lines and urinary catheters.

Preventing infection

Infection control is everyone’s business.

For patients

You must follow all infection control steps if you have an infection. Staff will support you and give you information on reducing the spread.

Vaccination is a key tool in reducing infections and protecting yourself and your family. Make sure that you get the annual flu vaccine; if you are pregnant please check our information on the importance of getting the flu vaccine to protect you and your unborn child.

Older people and people with long-term health conditions such as asthma, diabetes and COPD should get a pneumococcal vaccine to protect you from pneumonia. Talk to your GP about protecting yourself and your family.

For visitors

For visitors to hospitals and healthcare services, you should use the hand-washing stations. If none are available, wash your hands thoroughly when you leave the hospital.

For everyone

For all of us, it means not expecting an antibiotic for illnesses that cannot be cured by an antibiotic such as colds and flu.

If your doctor clinically assesses you as needing an antibiotic, make sure you complete the course and never share antibiotics. Any unused antibiotics should be returned to your pharmacy and not disposed of at home to protect our environment.

For staff

Throughout your shift, you need to clean your hands between every patient contact to get rid of the harmful or resistant bacteria that stick to hands.

Healthcare staff can prevent the spread of flu and save lives by getting the flu vaccine. The best way to protect you, your family and your patients is to get this year's vaccine.

More information