Medical Asepsis

(These are my notes paraphrased)

Clients entering health care facilities are at an increased risk of developing infections for a few reasons. Generally, people entering the hospital are already ill with compromised immune systems, allowing microorganisms to cause disease more easily.

Hospitals contain more microorganisms and illnesses, so this alone puts clients at an increased risk of contracting disease. (Seriously, why do we give birth in hospitals that aren’t dedicated to it? Oops, sorry… Personal opinion shining through! ha) Some clients in a health care facility might be undergoing surgery, which also compromises the clients’ ability to fight against ailments introduced to them.

Medical asepses is a “clean technique” used to reduce or prevent the growth and spread of microorganisms to clients. This is different from surgical asepsis, “sterile technique,” eliminates all microorganisms and spores from an object or an area.

The infection process

  1. Infectious Agents (microorganisms, pathogens)
  2. Reservoir
  3. Portal/Exit from reservoir
  4. Mode of transportation (vector or other carrier)
  5. Portal of entry for the new host (mucous membranes, cuts)
  6. Susceptible host

We can stop the spread of infection simply by washing our hands, being conscienscious of what we are doing and using infection control precautions, keeping up-to-date on vaccinations, segregating our work-specific outfits, showering and changing before going to the store (seriously, stop wearing your scrubs to the stores if you are a health care worker). Modes of transportation for microorganisms can be contact, respiratory/airborne, and droplet (in the air in droplets, which eventually becomes contact).

Some common carriers of infections in a health care setting: pills/drugs, equipment, blood, water, food, linen, clothing, bedside tables, bed pans, urinals, commodes, stethoscopes, contaminated IV bags, used catheters, lab samples, and especially the floor. The floor is the dirtiest place in a hospital or care home. Let nothing touch the floor except your feet. This includes dirty/used items such as bed linen, wrappers, and so forth. The floor is lava – channel your inner child!

Microorganisms are also known as microbes and are tiny forms of life, sich as bacterium, yeast, plankton, viruses, etc.

A pathogen is a microbe capable of causing disease/illness.

Asepsis is the absence of microbes — specific to the prevention of contamination by a microbe.

A reservoir refers to an area in which microbes may grow or live. This can be human or inanimate.

Contamination occurs when a foreign substance is introduced to an object, location, or subject. As an example, a person’s hand touches a blanket, leaving behind a spore – the sheet is now contaminated.

A nosocomial infection is an infection that comes on or is new while a client has already been in a hospital for 12 or more hours. In other words, an infection caused by being in a hospital or “hospital acquired infections.”

Virulent means that the organism or pathogen can cause disease.

Disinfection is the removal of pathogens with the exception of bacterial spores. Disinfection is used on non-living objects. Antiseptics are used on living tissue. Methods: chemicals (soaps, etc.), heat (boiling 15-20 minutes, dry heat @ 320 degrees F for 2 hours or 350 degrees for 45 minutes), and UV Light. Again: Chemicals, Heat, UV Light.

Sterilization deconstructs all microorganisms. Sterilization uses steam under pressure, ethylene oxide gas, hydrogen peroxide, other chemicals, or radiation for head-sensitive objects. Note that it is “under pressure,” not just use of these chemicals.

Vectors are living carriers… Carriers are people or objects that carry microorganisms on or in them. Non-living carriers are called fomites.

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