Norms issued to cut down hospital-acquired infections

In a move aimed at controlling hospital acquired infection, the health ministry on Tuesday issued guidelines for healthcare institutions to prevent transmission of infections. The move is significant as almost 40% of patients admitted in public hospitals are vulnerable to life threatening infections. While private hospitals are regarded as better, health experts say chances of catching infections there are also pegged at around 20-25%.

The guidelines, prepared by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) cover the basic principles of infection control, role of health care workers, bio-waste management and elaborates on the steps to be followed for setting up of an effective infection control in hospitals.

Highlighting that good infection control measures can significantly reduce patient morbidity and mortality in hospitals and has also been proven cost-effective, ICMR director general Soumya Swaminathan said, "The infection control policies and procedures, when consistently applied and integrated into all systems and processes result in significantly reduced infection rates".

Apart from basic standards, the ICMR document also elaborates on responsibilities of healthcare facilities, risks associated with them and need to vaccinate healthcare workers etc. A good infection control programme considerably reduces length of hospital stay and costs associated with it, the guidelines said.

Other components include basic measure for infection control education and training of healthcare workers, protection of healthcare workers, identification of hazards and minimising risks, aseptic techniques, use of single-use device, reprocessing of instruments and equipment, antibiotic usage, management of blood and body fluid exposure amongst others.

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