What is Infection Prevention and Control (IPC)?
Infection prevention and control (IPC) is a practical, evidence-based approach preventing patients and health workers from being harmed by avoidable infections. IPC affects all aspects of health care, both in the acute and community setting. It includes standard precautions (hand hygiene, aseptic techniques, wound infections, injection safety, antimicrobial resistance, waste management along with cleaning of healthcare environments and equipment) along with transmission-based precautions when required. The World Health Organisation advocate, “Clean Care is safer care” meaning that IPC is universally relevant to every health worker and patient, at every health care interaction. Clinicians have a role to play in ensuring that IPC measures integrate into our daily practice for safe patient care.
A successful infection prevention and control program requires systems and guidance, which enables healthcare workers to identify individuals presenting with risk factors for infection or colonisation. IPC guidance enables healthcare workers to reduce the risk of infection transmission through appropriate IPC measures by applying standard and transmission based precautions as appropriate. The HSE has published IPC guidance for use both within acute and community situations (referenced below).
Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) and Antimicrobial Stewardship Guidance (AMS) Resources for Irish General Practice
Programmes to support IPC are vital for safe healthcare delivery. The HSE has been instrumental in developing many of these resources designed to assist health organisations, their workforce and their consumers in implementing effective infection prevention and control.
This is a HSE dedicated section on Infection Prevention and Control, which is maintained by AMRIC. This practical resource provides relevant information on hand hygiene, multidrug resistant organisms including CPE and managing risk of transmission of viral infections amongst others. Furthermore, patient information leaflets are available.
The National Clinical Guidance document (NCEC), published in 2023, is a comprehensive document that applies to all health and social care workers that aims to provide up to date guidance on the management of IPC in healthcare settings.
- HSE Infection Prevention and Control Guidance
This is a 2013 Introductory guidance document specific to Infection Prevention and Control in the Irish General Practice setting which you may find helpful in planning for your own clinical practice.
HSE Land modules
HSELand is a free service available to health and social care staff in the Republic of Ireland. It is relevant for staff working within GP practices, hospital and community settings in the HSE, the voluntary hospital sector and organisations working in health or allied services. An email address is required to set up an account. The RESIST section on HSELand focuses on the key principles to promote IPC and antimicrobial awareness.
This community antimicrobial stewardship tool supports the implementation of:
Tips to reduce infection in the Community
IPC is very important to health workers and patients at every single health-care encounter. Having strong, effective IPC measures in place protects our patients, staff and ourselves from health care associated infections (HCAI). With nearly 30 million GP consultations occurring annually in Ireland, general practice is an area where IPC is essential in the community.
GP teams have proven, despite massive constraints during the COVID-19 pandemic, that they can risk assess and safely manage unwell patients with appropriate IPC measures whilst promoting vaccination as a preventive strategy. Each of these components contributes to reducing the spread of infection.
10 Simple measures to reduce the risk of HCAI within your GP practice:
- Clean your hands before and after every patient contact. Use alcohol gel if your hands look clean but soiled hands should be washed with soap and water
- As part of Standard Precautions, it is the responsibility of every HCW to undertake a point of care risk assessment PRIOR to performing a clinical care task, as this will inform the level of IPC precautions needed, including the choice of appropriate PPE.
- Follow respiratory etiquette and promote it for patients and visitors (www.healthpromotion.ie)
- Have masks and hand sanitiser available for patients
- Ensure cleaning of any equipment used on a patient (blood glucose monitors, thermometers, blood pressure cuffs, stethoscopes etc.) after every use
- Use single use disposable items when appropriate
- Clean/disinfect environmental surfaces regularly and if a patient has symptoms of infection clean/disinfect contact surfaces
- Regularly clean and disinfect if required, electronic devices in clinical rooms
- Don’t go to work if you are sick
- Use HSELand Modules for staff IPC education (www.hseland.ie)
Example of using HSEland for Staff Training
A successful infection prevention and control program requires systems and guidance, which enables healthcare workers to identify individuals presenting with, or with risk factors for, infection or colonisation. HSEland enables healthcare workers to reduce the risk of infection transmission through appropriate IPC guidance and training.
All staff in general practice encounter this on a day-to-day basis and these modules are a great resource. The modules are accredited for continuous professional development with the RCPI and NMBI. The CPD points can be part of the ongoing education that professionals are required to do every year. Participants need to register on www.hseland.ie, registration and access to the online modules is free
Sample IPC Induction Session for Clinical Staff (Approx 4 hours)
Infection Prevention and Control
- AMRIC Basics of Infection Prevention and Control (20 min)
- AMRIC Antimicrobial Stewardship in Practice (30 min)
- AMRIC Aseptic Technique (30 min)
- AMRIC Hand Hygiene (30 min)
- AMRIC Cleaning and Disinfecting the Healthcare Environment and Patient Equipment (30 min)
- AMRIC Management of Blood & Body Fluid Spills (15 min)
- AMRIC Standard and Transmission-Based Precautions (30 min)
- The flu vaccine – protect yourself, protect other (10 minutes)
- Pneumococcal vaccine (30 min)
Reviewed September 2023