Infections that occur in a hospital or similar healthcare environment are called Healthcare Associated Infections or HCAIs
The most common are MRSA (Meticillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus) and C.difficile (Clostridium difficile)
Homerton has very low rates of MRSA and C.difficile and the Trust is committed to ensuring that they remain low and where possible reduced further.
There is a Director of Infection Control and Prevention who reports to the chief Executive and a dedicated Infection Control and Prevention Team. The team provide specialist advice and support to all trust staff on issues relating to infection prevention and produce policies and procedures to ensure that patients, visitors and staff are protected from acquiring infections.
If you are due to come into hospital please let staff know if:
- you have been in any hospital in the last 12 months
- you have previously been told that you have MRSA
- you have had C.difficile diarrhoea in the past
- you develop any diarrhoea and/or vomiting prior to admission or whilst in hospital
When you are in hospital it is important to use good hygiene, which includes washing your hands before meals and after going to the toilet. If you cannot do this yourself then one of the nurses to help you.
If you are visiting someone in hospital it is important that:
- you use the alcohol hand gel when entering and leaving the ward or use soap and water if you are visiting someone with C.difficile or diarrhoea
- you do not visit if you are feeling unwell or discuss with one of the nurses if you are unsure
- if you want to bring children into the wards, please discuss this first with the nurses and do not bring them in if they are unwell.
If a patient has an infection that can be passed onto another person, for example, C.difficile, they will be isolated either in a single room or nursed with other patients with the same infection in a bay.
This is to protect other patients, visitors and staff and is closely monitored by the Infection Control team.
Alcohol hand rub is available at the entrance of every ward and at the ends of patients’ beds. The Trust takes part in the National Patient Safety Agency, ‘Clean Your Hands’ campaign.
This involves poster displays, education and promotional work around hand hygiene for both staff and visitors to the hospital. We do not expect patients or visitors to have to ask if staff have cleaned their hands, however sometimes staff can by very busy or may have used a sink out of sight, so if you haven’t seen someone clean their hands, or think they may have forgotten then please do ask.
It’s OK to ask our staff if their hands are clean before they start caring for you.
Homerton is bare below the elbow
On 1 January 2008 Homerton became a ‘bare below the elbow’ zone in the latest initiative to combat the spread of infection.
From now on all clinical staff, when caring for patients, should not wear anything below the elbow including white coats and long sleeve shirts. Bracelets, watches and other wrist jewellery are also not allowed, along with rings (apart from plain wedding bands). In addition, clinical staff have stopped wearing ties and bowties.
If you have any further queries in relation infection control and prevention please contact 020 8510 7557 directly.
Further information including the Homerton and all hospitals MRSA and C.difficile rates can also be obtained from the Health Protection Agency website.
Compliance and screening
To help control the spread of MRSA patients may be screened on admission to the hospital or in the pre-assessment clinic.
This involves taking swabs from the nose, throat and groin area and sending to the laboratory to test if MRSA is present. This is a painless procedure.
If the swabs are positive and the person is not yet in hospital they will be contacted and necessary arrangements will be made to have treatment before being admitted. If the person is in hospital, they will be given treatment and may be moved to an isolation area.
Homerton Hospital is compliant with MRSA screening guidance for all patients (elective and emergencies). The Trust monitors compliance on a monthly basis and this information is reported to the Trust board.