Mrs Peace Daniel started having body weakness and severe cough two weeks after her younger sister was admitted in the intensive care unit of one of the general hospitals in Abuja. Her sister was in the intensive care unit for a week and was later moved to the female ward for further attention.
Diagnosis revealed Mrs Daniel had been infected with Hospital Acquired Infections (HAIs) and she commenced treatment.
Patients, relatives and care givers sometimes end up with one infection or the other after visits or stay at hospital.
Hospital Acquired Infections (HAIs), also known as Nosocomial infections, are infections that are contacted in the hospital or other healthcare facilities. Studies have revealed that one-third of nosocomial infections are considered preventable.
Such infections can be acquired in hospital, nursing home, rehabilitation facility, outpatient clinic, or other clinical settings. Infection is spread to the susceptible patient in the clinical setting by various means.
It has been discovered that one of the most common wards where Hospital Acquired Infections (HAIs) occur is the intensive care unit (ICU), where doctors treat serious diseases.
A Water Hygiene and Sanitation Specialist (WASH) with the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), Mainga Moono Banda, said the role of WASH in healthcare facilities is very important, adding that lack of safe water and functional toilets, and hand washing facilities in healthcare setting pose health risks to patients, healthcare workers and nearby communities.
She said, hygiene was not only about washing but also cleaning the surfaces where attention has been given to a patient, where surgical operation is performed, where sanitary activities take place and so on. “Primary prevention control of infections and management of related diseases rely heavily on access to safe water, hygiene and sanitation.”
According to a Senior Registrar, Family Medicine Department, Wuse District Hospital, Dr Adeola Joshua, HAIs can be spread through healthcare staff, contaminated equipment, bed linens, beds, settees, or air droplets.
“The most common nosocomial infections are of the urinary tract, surgical site and various pneumonias. Mostly, they are contagious because patients come with different ailments like, TB, hepatitis B and most of the causative bacteria or virus are on the surface such as door handles, beddings, and chairs. So, when you open the door you can be infected,” he said.
HAIs are caused by viral, bacterial and fungal pathogens. The most common types are bloodstream infection pneumonia like ventilator-associated pneumonia, urinary tract infection and surgical site infection
Dr Adeola said the commonest is viral, adding that mere touching of surfaces could make anyone contact them. “Because of all these factors, patients can be admitted with a disease and also end up infected before living the hospital. Caregivers and relatives are also exposed to such infections because of their direct contact with the patients and the hospital environment.”
The family medicine expert said it is very common for care givers to acquire infection when attending to patients because they are the ones carrying out one examination or the other on the patient. “Most times, you wear gloves but your skin still touches the patient, you hand touches the beddings and that is how you are infected.”
He said part of the preventive measures is for people that visit not to touch anything when they come into a hospital.
“Even the cloth you wear when you visit a patient should be removed and washed separately when you return from hospital visit to avoid the material touching anything in your neighbourhood. That is why caregivers are advised to wear lab coat, use gloves when attending to patients and then remove them immediately they are done to avoid being infected,” he also said.
He added: “Also note that the ideal thing is to wash your hands when you enter any hospital and when you are going out. Avoid putting your hand in your pockets to avoid spreading infections. You must understand that these bacteria and virus are airborne. Care givers are advised to wash their hands anytime they attend to the patients.”
He also said that the symptom depends on the infection that the individual has caught and that it is mostly discovered when you have dizziness and weakness of the body among others.
“The hazard in the hospitals should be considered because the surrounding of the hospital may be clean but one can still be infected because these are not things you can see with the naked eyes. The place of personal hygiene is very key to preventing HAIs.
“We must speed up awareness to let people know that there is more to it than visiting someone in the hospital. They come to dirty the environment, litter the place, they touch places and even the patients and go back home with infection,” Dr Adeola said.
The physician advised that there is need to eradicate the culture of ‘you must visit someone in the hospital as a show of love’.
“That is the origin of our problem in this part of the world. Somebody is sick in your neighbourhood and if you don’t go and greet the person in the hospital they will think you are the cause of the sickness. Such notion must be aborted. You don’t have to visit before showing love because you can endanger your life.”
By Olayemi John-Mensah
Daily Trust News
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