Australian infection prevention and control guidelines released

National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) and Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care release 2019 guidelines.

The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), in partnership with the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (the Commission), has released the Australian Guidelines for the Prevention and Control of Infection in Healthcare for 2019.

Each year there are more than 165,000 healthcare associated infections (HAIs) in Australian acute healthcare facilities, making them the most common complication for hospital patients.

The revised guidelines use new national and international evidence to strengthen the risk management approach to infection and prevention control established in the 2010 guidelines.

The guidelines are for use by all working in healthcare – including healthcare workers, management and support staff.

They provide a risk-management framework to ensure the basic principles of infection prevention and control can be applied to a wide range of healthcare settings.

NHMRC CEO Professor Anne Kelso AO said the guidelines are one of NHMRC’s most frequently requested resources.

“They are used every day by clinicians in all healthcare environments to help develop protocols and inform policy at the state and territory level.”

Infection control is an issue that does not just affect patients and workers in hospitals — infections can occur in all healthcare settings, including office-based practices and ambulance services.

Commission’s CEO Adjunct Professor Debora Picone AO said healthcare associated infections are an important issue for patient safety.

“They are one of the most common complications affecting hospital patients, and greatly increase morbidity and mortality, as well as the risk of readmission.

“Effective infection prevention and control is central to providing high quality healthcare for patients and a safe working environment for healthcare workers.

“These guidelines support the National Safety and Quality Health Service (NSQHS) Standard Preventing and Controlling Healthcare-Associated Infections,” said Professor Picone.

NHMRC said it has used a rigorous and comprehensive approach to updating the guidelines to ensure they reflect the best available evidence and expert opinion on infection prevention and control.

There was also consultation by NHMRC and the Commission, particularly with the states and territories, to address a diverse range of healthcare policy needs.

“The guidelines provide a nationally accepted approach to infection prevention and control, focusing on core principles and priority areas for action. They provide a basis for healthcare workers and healthcare facilities to develop local protocols and processes for infection prevention and control,” said Professor Kelso.

“Importantly, the guidelines have a risk management focus, encouraging clinicians to think about the infection risk of each situation and adapt practice accordingly.There is also greater emphasis in the revised guidelines on better management and surveillance of multi-resistant organisms, in line with global calls for this to be a public health priority.

Key elements addressed in the 2019 guidelines include: the importance of a patient-centred approach, disinfection methods, antimicrobial resistance, replacement of peripheral intravenous catheters, use of chlorhexidine, immunisation for healthcare workers, Norovirus and use of hospital-grade disinfectants.

The NHMRC Infection Control Guidelines Advisory Committee also provided oversight and advice on updating the guidelines.

The 2019 guidelines can be downloaded here.

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