Universal (Standard) Precautions

31 03 2010

In watching the movie “Remaking American Medicine”, I was startled to learn that 2 million people in America each year are infected by diseases caused by germs contracted from a medical professional and that of those, 100,000 have fatal results (Crosskeys Media LLC).  Further startling is that this happens with such frequency that there is a term for it, nosocomial infections.  To know that these are the infections that have slipped through the cracks – how many million more lives have been spared because of the implementation of precautionary methods?  I read a work by Dr. Stephen Abedon and I liked how he described the significance of the precautions as a “[break in] the chain of transmission” and how every step from hand washing between patients to utilizing single-use disposable equipment to even air filtration can each independently work towards preventing these infections from spreading (Abedon).

Per the CDC, “Universal precautions are intended to supplement rather than replace recommendations for routine infection control.”  In 1989, the term universal precautions did not apply to all bodily fluids, in fact the CDC specifically stated that universal precautions did not apply to feces, urine, vomit, sputum unless it contained visible blood, but the main focus of the precautions at that time was getting a firm handle on the transmission of AIDs, Hepatitis B, HIV and other blood-borne pathogens (CDC 31-32).  Now we utilize the term standard precautions as they build on the universal precaution methods to acknowledge that “any body fluid may contain contagious and harmful microorganisms” (Sadoh et al 723).  These precautions are outlined as measures that medical professionals including washing their hands and covering them with disposable gloves, sterilizing any items that must be reused for other patients, wearing masks and gowns to prevent the passing of any possible infections between patients and medical facility staff members, and also isolating any person who has an infection to reduce the transmissions (Rizzo).  By limiting the skin to skin contact and direct inhalation of air-borne germs, we as medical professionals will be able to reduce our risk of becoming infected or even merely serving as a host before passing an illness on to another patient.  Just because we choose to work in a profession where sickness is plentiful doesn’t mean we need to contribute to its livelihood.

Work Cited

Abedon, Stephen T. Bacteriophage Ecology: Population Growth, Evolution, and Impact of Bacterial Viruses. New York: Cambridge UP, 2008. Ohio State University at Mansfield, 09 May 1998. Mon. 29 Mar. 2010. <http://www.mansfield.ohio-state.edu/~sabedon/biol2053.htm#black_1996&gt;.

CDC. A Curriculum Guide for Public-Safety and Emergency-Response Workers. Atlanta: DIANE, 1989. Print.

Remaking American Medicine. Prod. Frank Christopher, Matthew Eisen, and Marc Shaffer. Perf. John Hockenberry. Crosskeys Media, LLC, 2006. DVD.

Rizzo, Toni, and L. Lee Culvert. “Hospital-Acquired Infections.” Advameg, Inc., 2010. Mon. 29 Mar. 2010. <http://www.surgeryencyclopedia.com/Fi-La/Hospital-Acquired-Infections.html&gt;.

Sadoh, Wilson E., Adeniran O. Fawole, Ayebo E. Sadoh, Ayo O. Oladimeji, and Oladapo S. Sotiloye. “Practice of Universal Precautions among Healthcare Workers.” Journal of the National Medical Association 98.5 (2006): 722-25. Print.

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6 responses

19 04 2010
18 05 2010
Laurel

MERSA is a big problem in the hospitals my nephew died from it and all we gots was a sorry for your loss from the doctors and then they billed his momma anyway when they gave it to him!
I hope you do good in school

20 05 2010
protogere

Thank you Laurel and how shocking that is to me that they would bill for illnesses they caused. I am so sorry for your loss.

16 06 2010
Pop

My cousin got real sick by stuff he caught at the hospital in the waiting room but he wasn’t there to be seen, he’s waiting on his brother and he caught solmenella. They had to get the CDC involved and stuff, he was in so much pain and sick.

15 07 2010
protogere

How dreadful Pop. We had a good friend of ours whose daughter contracted salmonella through the school and it was gut wrenching to watch her suffer when we visited her at the hospital. I hope your cousin is better.

14 02 2011
Regine Beeman

I would like to thank You for this good article.

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