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Hygiene — a primary tool in infection control

02 October 2014
14 mins read
Volume 5 · Issue 8


Infection control is a very current issue for both medicine and veterinary medicine. There is a lot of air time and press coverage on the topic available and it is some-thing that all nurses should be up-to-date with to ensure compliance and best possible care for their patients. Infection control within the veterinary practice often falls under the remit of the veterinary nurse. Simple methods of ensuring that adequate infection control procedures are established and carried out are discussed so that correct and relevant advice can be given to owners when necessary.

Control of infection within a practice or hospital environment is probably one of the single most important roles of the veterinary nurse. The best possible care should always be given to patients and so ways to reduce or eliminate the risk of spread of infection should be implemented. From admission to discharge there are many points at which there is a risk of infection; at any stage infection can be detrimental to the welfare and recovery of the patient.

It is useful to be familiar with a number of well used terms (Blood, 1988):

Everyone in the practice, owner/client, veterinary surgeon, veterinary nurse, receptionist, kennel worker/patient care assistant and cleaner is responsible for hygiene of the practice. It is everyone's responsibility as there are a number of repercussions if practice hygiene is not adhered to. Clients and practice staff expect:

A large proportion of the patients coming into the practice or hospital do have a pre-booked appointment. During a booking telephone call with an owner, it would be prudent to check that the animal is not suffering from any potential infectious disease, for example vomiting, diarrhoea, coughing, sneezing or has an open wound (Figure 1). If suspicion arises that the patient may infectious, the owners should be questioned further before the appointment is organised. It may be advisable to have them wait in the car until their appointment, book the last appointment of the day, or bring them into the practice through another entrance to prevent infection of other patients in the waiting room by direct contact transmission (Anderson, 2008). Vaccination, including that for kennel cough, may be advocated for patients visiting the practice or being hospitalised. Personnel involved in answering the telephone and dealing with owners need to have adequate knowledge and training with the ability to assess and identify any potential infectious cases.

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