Coming together to break the chain

Infection Prevention and Control Week
During Infection Prevention and Control Week, IPAC Nursing Consultant Maude Giordanengo (left) and IPAC Nurse Shilloo Saint-Fort quizzed passersby at the Jewish General Hospital on how to safely remove Personal Protective Equipment after it had been ‘contaminated’ with chocolate icing.

Graphic teaches staff how to prevent spread of infection

Winter is in full swing, and so is the flu!

A severe case of the flu can land vulnerable—and even healthy—people in a hospital. It can also develop during or after a hospital stay. In either case, healthcare workers bear the responsibility of treating the illness and preventing it from contaminating others.

Maude Giordanengo (left), a Nursing Consultant with Infection Prevention and Control and IPAC Nurse Shilloo Saint-Fort raised awareness among staff and the public on the importance of hand hygiene and Personal Protective Equipment during an IPAC Week event at the Jewish General Hospital.

Wondering how to protect our users and visitors, along with ourselves? The Infection Prevention and Control (IPAC) team presented a tool to guide us, during IPAC Week and all year long, on preventing healthcare-associated infections. These efforts have been proven to shorten hospital stays, improve survival rates and reduce morbidity linked to infections.

The IPAC chain of infection graphic illustrates a six-step process showing how an infection is spread. It also demonstrates how to break each link in the chain of transmission, to keep HAIs at bay.

At any given point of transmission, the most effective way to prevent healthcare-associated infections includes practicing regular hand hygiene and the proper use of Personal Protective Equipment. This precaution may include wearing a gown, gloves, mask or some form of eye protection, depending on the type of infection.

Break the chain to save a life

Break the chain graphic
Break the chain graphic

Infectious Agents
The cycle begins with an infectious agent, a microorganism that is capable of producing infection. This may include viruses, bacteria, parasites and fungi.
Break the chain: Early detection and diagnosis of the infectious agent is essential to prevent its spread.

Infectious agents live and thrive in many environments, be it on your hands, desk or medical equipment.
Break the chain: Reduce the Reservoir by practicing regular hand hygiene and cleaning your environment. If you are a clinician, always sterilize and disinfect your instruments.

Portal of Exit
Infectious agents can exit through the mouth, nose, eyes, stool, urine or open wounds, and without proper etiquette, can be easily transmitted.
Break the chain: Respiratory etiquette, such as covering your mouth with your elbow when sneezing or coughing, will help prevent transmission, as will cleaning your hands after doing so.

Mode of Transmission
The transmission of an infectious agent from one person to another can occur through direct contact, for example by shaking hands, or indirect contact, such as sharing the same phone.
Break the chain: Proper cleaning and disinfection is crucial, along with the proper use of protective equipment.

Portal of Entry
The infectious agent enters a new host in the same way it exited: through the mouth, nose, eyes, stool, urine or open wounds.
Break the chain: Staff must practice proper hand hygiene and aseptic techniques to prevent further contamination and spread.

Susceptible Host
The infection reaches a new host––any individual who is at risk of infection. Factors such as age, disease history and a compromised immune system can increase this risk.
Break the chain: At this stage in the cycle, treatment of the underlying infection is required. It is also recommended to educate the user on how to protect themselves and their loved ones from contracting infections.