• Infection control and waste management

    Minimising the risk

    As a health care provider you are responsible for minimising the risk of cross infection. Every person must be considered a potential source of infection and all practice members must be educated on infection prevention and control guidelines to protect themselves and others from becoming infected (see Improving your practice below). Although staff members are responsible for their own wellbeing, the practice should offer them immunisation (NHMRC 2012). A record of immunisation status should be maintained and kept in staff files, and a staff member (usually the practice manager) should take responsibility for monitoring vaccination requirements and immunity and liaise with individual staff members on this.

    Improving your practice

    For optimum infection prevention and control you must adhere to the following precautions:

    • Ensure hands are washed before and after any contact with patients or contact with any body substances. Assume all blood and body substances including saliva, urine, vomitus and wound drainage etc. are potentially infectious.
    • Take standard infection control precautions against inadvertent contact with any body substance. This must include the use of personal protective equipment - medical examination gloves, eye protection, impervious aprons or gowns and appropriate face masks.
    • Prevent transfer of any body substance between patient and patient, and practice member and patient.
    • Provide a documented cleaning program for all areas of the surgery. Clean all areas of the surgery on a routine basis. Ensure equipment and surfaces are cleaned as soon as possible after use, using appropriate chemicals in accordance with the requirements of NHMRC (2012).
    • Sterilise all instruments and equipment to be introduced beneath skin or mucous membrane in accordance with current Australian Standards for cleaning, disinfecting and sterilising reusable medical and surgical instruments and equipment, and maintenance of associated environments in health care facilities. Ensure all equipment is cleaned thoroughly before being placed into an autoclave or sterilising agent. Make sure you monitor the autoclave to ensure its efficacy. This means using chemical, biological or physical indicators and/or validation processes in accordance with the requirements for current Australian Standards. Your autoclave supplier or pathology companies will assist you with this process.
    • Clean, maintain and use equipment according to the manufacturer's instruction (see Equipment).
    • Dispose of waste in an appropriate manner that will not pose a risk to others and in accordance with local regulations and legislation.
    • Offer immunisation to practice members and document the same.

    In addition, ensure the following are in place:

    • Work Cover insurance
    • Written procedures (see WHS Infection Control Policy template)
    • Appropriate and regular training for all practice members. All training should be documented
    • Appropriate cleaning equipment
    • Protective equipment
    • Fire extinguishers and/or blankets
    • Security alarms
    • Ergonomically tested furniture
    • Maintenance program for air-conditioner
    • Maintenance program for fire extinguishers
    • Signs displayed for sharps injuries (in all areas of surgery)

    Tools and Resources

    Download the WHS Infection Control Policy template