Infection Prevention and Control Week

Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) week is celebrated during the third week of October each year. The theme for IPC week every year is Infection prevention and control is safe health care for everyone, all the time.

The Commission supports IPC Week by providing a range of resources to support effective infection prevention and control initiatives and local activities across the week.

Infection prevention and control aims to reduce the risk of patients, visitors and healthcare workers getting an infection; a successful infection prevention and control program requires:

  • The prompt identification of individuals presenting with, or with risk factors for, colonisation or infection
  • The use of standard precautions and, when necessary, the use of transmission-based precautions
  • The implementation of programs such as antimicrobial stewardship, to limit the development of antimicrobial resistance
  • The promotion of appropriate and sustainable use of infection prevention and control resources.

The actions of NSQHS Preventing and Controlling Infections Standard support health service organisations to reduce the risk of preventable infections to patients, consumers and members of the workforce through the promotion of appropriate and sustainable of infection prevention and control resources and programs.

What is Infection Prevention and Control Week?

Everyone has a role in the prevention and control of infection in health care. Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) Week is about promoting better infection prevention and control practices in health care and recognising the efforts of all healthcare workers to reduce the risk of infections in health services. Simple actions such as cleaning shared patient equipment between each use and hand hygiene can make big differences.

IPC Week 2021 -  17 October to 23 October

The Commission’s focus for IPC Week 2021 is breaking the chain of transmission for COVID-19 infection. COVID-19 has highlighted the importance of having a multi-faceted infection prevention and control approach to protect patients, healthcare workers and the wider community.

The Commission has a range of COVID-19 resources to support health service organisations prevent and control the spread of COVID-19 in our community.

Key messages for IPC week 2021

Infection prevention and control includes respiratory hygiene and cough etiquette

Infectious respiratory diseases, such as COVID-19, are spread through coughing and sneezing. As part of standard precautions, respiratory hygiene and cough etiquette must be practised at all times during patient care by both the healthcare worker and the patient. Respiratory hygiene and cough etiquette involves:

  • Healthcare workers staying at home and not attending at work if unwell with a symptomatic respiratory illness
  • Covering sneezes and coughs to prevent infected persons from dispersing respiratory secretions into the air
  • Washing hands with soap and water after coughing, sneezing, using tissues, and after contact with respiratory secretions or objects contaminated by these secretions.

For more information see Section 3.1.5 Respiratory hygiene and cough etiquette in the Australian Guidelines for the Prevention and Control of Infection in Healthcare (2019).

Infection prevention and control includes a clean, hygienic environment

A clean and hygienic healthcare environment supports a health consumer's right to access safe and high quality care in an environment that makes them feel safe. A clean and hygiene healthcare environment also protects healthcare workers from infection in their work place. Environmental cleaning is an element of standard precautions and is an essential part of every infection prevention and control program.

The Commission has a number of Environmental cleaning resources to help support health service organisations maintain a safe, hygienic healthcare environment.

For more information see the Actions for 3.13 and 3.14 Clean and safe environment of the NSQHS Preventing and Controlling Infections Standard and Section 3.1.3 Routine management of the physical environment of the Australian Guidelines for the Prevention and Control of Infection in Healthcare.

Infection prevention and control includes hand hygiene

Hand hygiene is the simplest and most effective intervention that everyone can use to stop the spread of infection. When performed at critical points during patient contact, hand hygiene prevents the onward spread of disease to patients and healthcare workers, and limits contamination of the healthcare environment.

Patients and members of the community should also use hand hygiene to protect themselves and others from infections, such as COVID-19. Hand hygiene can be done by either washing hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand rubs.

For more information, see Action 3.10 Hand hygiene actions of the NSQHS Preventing and Controlling Infections Standard, and Section 3.1.1 Hand hygiene of the  Australian Guidelines for the Prevention and Control of Infection in Healthcare. The Commission also has a range of resources to support healthcare workers and the community learn about hand hygiene including promotional resources and factsheets, eLearning modules and guidance on implementing the National Hand Hygiene Initiative.

Infection prevention and control includes getting vaccinated

Vaccination is a simple and effective way to prevent the onward transmission of diseases, such as COVID-19, in the community and healthcare settings. Vaccination protects patients, healthcare workers, their families and the wider community from outbreaks of infectious diseases.

The Commission supports health service organisations and healthcare workers to promote vaccination through Action 3.15 Workforce screening and immunisation of the NSQHS, Preventing and Controlling Infections Standard and the Workforce immunisation risk matrix.

Infection prevention and control is breaking the chain of infection

Patient and healthcare worker safety is the fundamental goal of all infection prevention and control programs. Patient and healthcare worker safety can be achieved through the use of standard precautions and, when necessary, transmission-based precautions during patient care. Standard precautions and transmission-based precautions refer to a bundle of interventions that when used together are highly effective in breaking the chain of infection.

For information on standard and transmission-based precautions, see the actions 3.06, 3.07, 3.08 and 3.09 of the NSQHS, Preventing and Controlling Infections Standard and the recommendations in the Australian Guidelines for the Prevention and Control of Infection in Healthcare Section 3.1 Standard precautions and Section 3.2 Transmission-based precautions.

The Commission also has a range of resources which provide advice on how to reduce the risk of Coronavirus (COVID-19) exposure and infection. These resources are freely available for Australian health service organisations, healthcare professionals and consumers.

Join the conversation

Clinicians and organisations can participate in Twitter discussions during IPC Week to contribute to, and learn more about, the importance of infection prevention and control and improving patient safety.

To keep up to date on topics relevant to IPC Week, follow the Commission on Twitter: @ACSQHC.

Other Twitter accounts to follow include:

@ACTHealth @DHHS
@healthgovau @NSWCEC
@NSWHealth @NTGovHealth
@qldhealthnews @SaferCareVic
@SAHealth @TasmaniaHealth
@VICGov @WAHealth

Other IPC week Resources