In light of August being National Immunization Month we want to discuss the SLP’s and OT’s role in infection control and prevention. The incidence of communicable diseases, such as cytomegalovirus (CMV), hepatitis B (HBV), herpes simples, tuberculosis, influenza, and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) are increasing. These diseases, in addition to other infections, are contagious and can be life-threatening. Considering the increased prevalence of infectious diseases and the expanded scope of practice for therapists, infection control and prevention of disease transmission are important concerns for the practicing clinician.
Not only are you in direct contact with your clients, therapists may handle hearing aids, earmolds, headphones, earphones, tongue blades, toys, TalkTools, and other instruments that come in direct or indirect contact with their clients. As a result, it is important that they protect themselves and their clients from infection. Infection control programs can include routine preventative measures (hand washing, protective barriers, and immunizations) in addition to antimicrobial processes (cleaning, disinfection, and sterilization).
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend certain practices for the prevention of blood-borne pathogens and other bodily fluids. Training on these guidelines is mandated annually for all individuals who are recognized as at-risk to occupational exposure for blood-borne pathogens. Standard Precautions include, but are not limited to, hand hygiene, isolation precautions, wearing personal protective equipment, and sterilization of reusable equipment.
Although we may consider this to be obvious, hand hygiene is the most effective way to prevent infection and is often considered the first line of defense against germs. Hand hygiene is important for the safety of health care workers and the patients they treat. Beyond proper hand sanitation is the implementation of barriers, or gloves.
DC Guidelines for Hand Hygiene in Health-Care Settings
Recommendations of the Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee and the HICPAC/SHEA/APIC/IDSA Hand Hygiene Task Force
INFECTION CONTROL POLICY AND PROCEDURES
University of Wisconsin Speech & Hearing Clinic Speech & Language Pathology