Australian Guidelines for the Prevention and Control of Infection in Healthcare (2010)

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There are around 200,000 healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) in Australian acute healthcare facilities each year. This makes HAIs the most common complication affecting patients in hospital. As well as causing unnecessary pain and suffering for patients and their families, these adverse events prolong hospital stays and are costly to the health system.

Understanding the modes of transmission of infectious organisms and knowing how and when to apply the basic principles of infection prevention and control is critical to the success of an infection control program. This responsibility applies to everybody working and visiting a healthcare facility, including administrators, staff, patients and carers.

Successful approaches for preventing and reducing harms arising from HAIs involve applying a risk-management framework to manage ‘human’ and ‘system’ factors associated with the transmission of infectious agents. This approach ensures that infectious agents, whether common (e.g. gastrointestinal viruses) or evolving (e.g. influenza or multi-resistant organisms [MROs]), can be managed effectively.

These guidelines provide recommendations that outline the critical aspects of infection prevention and control. The recommendations were developed using the best available evidence and consensus methods by the Infection Control Steering Committee. They have been prioritised as key areas to prevent and control infection in a healthcare facility. It is recognised that the level of risk may differ according to the different types of facility and therefore some recommendations should be justified by risk assessment. When implementing these recommendations all healthcare facilities need to consider the risk of transmission of infection and implement according to their specific setting and circumstances.

The Process Report is available at Appendix 2 of the guideline.

Clinical Educators Guide for the Prevention and Control of Infection in Healthcare

This Clinical Educators Guide for the prevention and control of infection in healthcare has been developed to provide strategies for clinical educators and supervisors to assist students and graduate healthcare workers integrate a risk management approach into their daily tasks/duties that involve infection prevention and control. The Guide aims to ensure students, and new graduates:

  • are aware of the issue of healthcare associated infections in Australia;
  • understand the chain of infection and the different modes of transmission of infection in healthcare;
  • have a basic understanding of a risk management approach to infection prevention and control; and
  • are able to identify potential risk for transmission of infection in the delivery of healthcare and decide what measures they should implement.

The Guide should be used in conjunction with the Australian Guidelines for the prevention and control of infection in health care (2010) and its key recommendations, as well as the healthcare facility’s infection control orientation program.

Consumer fact sheets to support this guideline

These consumer factsheets have been developed to support the messages on healthcare associated infection contained in the NHMRC Australian Guidelines for the prevention and control of infection in healthcare (2010).  The factsheets aim to inform patients, visitors, families and carers about  healthcare associated infection, what activities  healthcare facilities may have in place to make sure infections are prevented as much as possible, and what they can do to limit the spread of infections.

There are specific factsheets on the Methicillin resistant Staphylococuss aures,Vancomycin Resistant Enterococci and Clostridium difficile.

*Information on infection control issues relating to Creutzfeldt Jacob disease (CJD)

Information on infection control issues relating to Creutzfeldt Jacob disease (CJD) and in particular the reprocessing of reusable medical instruments, is beyond the scope of this guideline. Please refer to the Department of Health website.

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Download a PDF of the guideline and supporting materials

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Other resources

For signage about airborne, contact and droplet precautions, please see the infection control guidelines page of the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care website.

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