The Future of Infection Control
with thanks to Covid-19
Infection Prevention and Control is not a new concept, the basics have been with us since the days of Florence Nightingale. The spread of hospital borne infection during the coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the importance of IPC systems and procedures within the modern healthcare environment and in fact may help drive the long-term future shaping of this field.
Whilst the lessons learned will inevitably include criticism of lapsed standards and individual failings, it is all too easy to point the finger of blame when the NHS is battling against the biggest health crisis in its history. The fact it has not crumbled under this pressure is testament to the sheer dogged determination of staff whose commitment to provide care to anyone in need cannot be overstated.
We seem to have a built-in apathetic acceptance that some things are destined to be, as though we live in a pre-determined universe.
Take the pandemic response as an example. East Asian countries (with experience of SARS, MERS), immediately set about a policy of eradication – with no acceptable level of infection. In the UK, we have gone about a model of suppression- where numbers will be reduced to an acceptable level. Now think of infection control policy over recent years – target after target (typically not achieved) to reduce infections, to what is seen by policy makers as an acceptable level.
Perhaps it is time to learn from our Asian cousins that the only acceptable level is zero.
Whilst some transmission risks are unavoidable and subsequent infection almost inevitable (see the Britishness creeping in), that doesn’t mean they have to be acceptable. We should strive to implement systems and procedures not to hit targets, but to eradicate not accept.
When the number of lives lost through hospital acquired Covid-19 is calculated perhaps the gravity of the situation will be more apparent.
With or without these figures, we can all work towards reducing infection, embracing technological advances, not being so resistant to change.
Whilst for many, IPC is all about the numbers – cost, reduction in bed occupancy, treatment etc; surely the only number that really matters is lives.
Is even one life lost through infection acceptable?