Infection Control in the Health Care Setting Guidelines for the Prevention of Transmission of Infectious Diseases

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The NHMRC and Australian National Council on AIDS (ANCA) have released a joint publication, 'Infection Control in the Health Care Setting' based on a review of previous infection control guidelines, and the need for national guidelines which are appropriate in a broad range of health care settings.

The report establishes nationally agreed minimum standards for infection control.

It outlines the principles of infection control and provides a rationale against which practitioners and health care establishments can develop detailed protocols and systems for infection control relevant to their own area of health care.

The report is based on the key principles of hygiene, cleanliness and sterility and recommends implementation of Standard Precautions (replacing the term Universal Precautions) and Additional Precautions in those circumstances where Standard Precautions may be insufficient to prevent transmission of infection. The Guidelines address design of premises, choice and type of equipment used (sharps reduction, ease of cleaning and sterilizing), occupational health and safety considerations, safe disposal of clinical waste, the appropriate use of antibiotics, regular monitoring of infections, an effective and ongoing education and training program for all levels of staff and incorporation of infection control into a comprehensive quality management program.

As well as providing current technical information or 'best practice' for infection control, the document addresses some ethical issues for which a national approach is desirable. This includes policy guidelines on health care workers (including students) who may be infected with blood borne viruses such as HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C.

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