Infection Prevention and Control

The prevention and control of infection is a top priority for the Royal Cornwall hospitals NHS Trust which is working hard to prevent the spread of infection. There is a dedicated Infection Prevention and Control providing education, support and advice to all staff across the Trust.

Infections are caused by bacteria or viruses (bugs) that occur naturally all around us, in the air, on surfaces and all over our bodies. It is important to remember that most of them will not do us any harm.

When we are not well or following an operation, our bodies’ natural defences (immune system) are weaker which can make us more susceptible to infections. Every disease, condition, procedure, and sometimes medication can reduce the body’s natural defence against infection. Most people will not develop an infection whilst they are in hospital but it is not possible to completely remove all the risk.

Whilst we are working hard to reduce the risk of our patients contracting an infection in hospital, helping reduce the spread of infection in the hospital environment is everyone’s responsibility. 

What are we doing?

  • We regularly train and update all staff on infection prevention and control issues
  • We have a number of Clinical Guidelines and Patient Information Leaflets available to keep patients and staff informed
  • We promote handwashing and the use of alcohol hand gel as one of the most important ways of preventing the spread of infections
  • We work with our cleaning staff to maintain high standards of cleanliness in our hospitals

What can you do to help?

As a patient, you can:

  • Always wash your hands after using the toilet.  If you use a commode, ask for a bowl of water to wash your hands or use a moist hand wipe afterwards.
  • Try to keep your bed area free from clutter.  This will allow the cleaning staff to clean your locker and bed table properly.
  • If you visit the bathroom or toilet and it does not look clean, report this immediately to the nurse in charge of the ward and use an alternative in the meantime.
  • Your bed area should be cleaned regularly.  If you or your visitors notice something which has been missed during cleaning, report it immediately and request that it be cleaned.
  • Avoid touching your wounds, drips, catheters or other tubes. 
  • Hospital staff can protect you by washing their hands or cleaning them with an alcohol hand rub. If a member of staff needs to examine you or perform a procedure do not be afraid to remind them to clean their hands if you are worried they may have forgotten.  It’s okay to ask!

As a visitor, you can:

  • Please wash your hands or use the alcohol hand rub before they enter or leave the ward.
  • Please let staff know if the alcohol get dispenser is empty.
  • Please do not visit if you have symptoms such as diarrhoea or vomiting (and for 48 hours after your last episode) or infections such as chickenpox,
  • It is not recommended that young children visit; this should be discussed beforehand with the nurse in charge.

Information about sepsis

The following content is supplied by the NHS website

How we’re working to improve outcomes for sepsis at the Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust

At the Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust, we have introduced a number of measures, and tough targets, to improve the screening of patients and identification of sepsis. These really are life-saving changes that we can and need to make in order to prevent unnecessary deaths from Sepsis.

These include:

  • A dedicated Lead Nurse for Sepsis, whose role is to ensure those involved in patient care are spotting the warning signs which can lead to major organ failure and taking action in the vital first hour. Every hour’s delay increases mortality by almost 8%.
  • A Trust Lead for Sepsis who works to ensure that a culture of sepsis screening and identification of sepsis is embedded within our hospitals with assistance from clinicians in the key areas of Emergency Department and the Medical Admissions Unit.
  • There is a big emphasis on education, too. Education and training is offered to all levels of clinical staff, and includes:
    • Sepsis Champion Study Sessions – educating members of the MDT to pass on their knowledge to others
    • Sepsis simulation with the Simulation Team and as part of the AIMS & ALS courses,
    • HEAC332 & HEAC334 courses
    • Mandatory Training – from January 2017
    • Ward/department-based teaching sessions.
  • Throughout the trust, patient notes are audited to see that nurses are screening appropriately for Sepsis on the Trust’s NEWS chart and on E-Obs. Compliance with the use of Sepsis 6 is also audited.
  • We compile weekly audits in the Emergency Department to monitor our compliance and effectiveness. This review identifies if patients are being appropriately screened and where necessary that the correct steps are then taken. The data is then fed back to the clinical leads in each area to let them know how well they are doing.
  • We also submit monthly data for our sepsis screening and compliance to qualify for CQUIN (Commissioning for Quality and Innovation) money. This money can then be used to improve patient care.
  • Where sepsis is identified, we aim to ensure that all patients receive an appropriate antibiotic within the hour of identifying sepsis as part of the one-hour Sepsis 6 care-bundle pathway; and a three-day review of those antibiotics.

Contact details

If you have any further questions please ask your nurse or contact the infection Prevention and Control Team on:

Page last reviewed: 1 December 2023

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