What is Infection Control?
During recovery from surgery, the surgical incision itself is a potential point of entry into the body for germs to cause infection. In addition, the stresses involved in the preoperative, operative and postoperative periods lower the resistance of the immune system of the body to any infection.
Germs can be transmitted by direct contact from person to person. Germs can be transmitted by direct contact with a source of infection such as a skin lesion or body fluids or secretions. Germs can be transmitted by indirect contact with an object that has germs on it, for example soiled bed linen or clothes.
Germs can be transmitted through droplet infection, when someone with a respiratory infection talks, sneezes or coughs within 3 feet of another person.
Also, small insects and animals like flies, fleas, cockroaches and rats can carry germs around. Precautions to prevent the transmission or spread of infection focus on frequent, thorough handwashing, the use of disposable gloves and the correct cleaning of work areas, surfaces and linens.
Hands must be washed with high friction for a minimum of 10 seconds:
* before and after any contact with the person who has had surgery
* before and after gloving
* after any accidental contact with body fluids, secretions or excretions
* after going to the toilet yourself
* after blowing your nose with a tissue
* before, during and after food preparation
* before and after eating food
The correct technique for handwashing is detailed in our program “Hand Washing”.
*Disposable, one-time-use gloves provide a barrier when care is being given.
*Gloves must be worn if your hands have cuts, cracks or sores.
* If you could come in contact with body fluids, secretions, excretions, eyes, nose, mouth or genital area.
* If you might touch an object contaminated with body fluids, secretions or excretions.
The correct technique for putting on and taking off gloves is shown in our program “Gloving”. Keeping the environment clean and free from disease causing germs is essential.
In the kitchen and bathroom, counter tops and work surfaces are cleaned with standard detergent products after each use. Contamination by or spills of body substances, like urine, are wiped up immediately with paper towels, using disposable gloves.
The surface is then washed with hot water and detergent and rinsed with hot water. A disinfectant bleach solution, like a 1:10 solution of Clorox or 5% carbolic acid (Lysol) is applied, left on for 10 minutes, and wiped dry. At all times, used paper towels and disposable gloves are put into a plastic bag, sealed, and disposed of into normal trash. In the bathroom, the toilet is disinfected weekly with full strength bleach or Lysol. The tub, shower and wash basin are cleaned daily with a standard cleaner and disinfected weekly with the bleach solution or Lysol cleaner.
Liquid soap is preferred to bar soap, which can be an asylum for germs.
Bed linen or other materials soiled with body fluids are handled separately.
Using disposable gloves, they are placed in a pillow case then into a plastic bag to be carried to the washing machine. They are washed immediately and separately using detergent and bleach in the hottest water for the longest wash cycle.
After washing, the linen can be handled normally.
People wishing to visit who have an upper respiratory infection are best asked to stay away.
If their visit is essential, they must wash their hands thoroughly and wear a fiber surgical mask. Awareness, attention to detail and common sense can ensure recovery from surgery at home free from infection.