Mediclinic SA’s infection control philosophy

Posted on 18 June 2019

Mediclinic Southern Africa considers infection prevention and control a key priority – and innovative measures to reduce the spread of bacteria are now paying off. 

Healthcare-associated  infections continue to pose a risk to patients worldwide. The World Health Organisation estimates that at any given time, seven in every 100 hospitalised patients will develop at at least one healthcare-associated infection  in developing countries..

This means hundreds of millions of patients are affected by health care-associated infections all over the world each year. Mediclinic SA acknowledges this risk – and in response, places great emphasis on reducing and preventing these infections in each unit and at every hospital.

“Hospital patients are a very vulnerable population,” says Briёtte du Toit, Infection Prevention and Control Officer: Mediclinic SA. “They carry existing diseases or co-morbidities, are often on a range of medications, have undergone chemotherapy and prior antibiotic use, have invasive medical devices inserted and many are due for a variety of invasive procedures. All of these factors put them at a higher risk of acquiring an infection, as their immune systems are compromised.”

The good news: a detailed and comprehensive strategy is now bearing fruit, as Mediclinic has seen a significant reduction in healthcare-associated infections.

“Mediclinic SA has implemented a comprehensive infection prevention and control (IPC) programme and uses a multimodal strategy to reduce healthcare-acquired infections,” says Du Toit.

As a part of that strategy, Mediclinic employs trained IPC managers who are responsible for the implementation of the IPC programme at hospital level and oversee the hospitals’ measures to prevent the spread of infections, and gauge their success in doing so. “Infection prevention and control is a key clinical key performance indicator for our hospitals,” says Du Toit.

“Our IPC managers use a sophisticated electronic surveillance systems to identify resistant organisms. We are then able to follow up patients who carry these organisms, and institute appropriate measures to prevent transmission to other patients.

Hand hygiene compliance among all healthcare workers– no matter their rank or responsibilities – is another major focus, from the top down. Mediclinic SA Chief Operating Officer Wimpie Aucamp is the current chairperson of the Hand Hygiene committee, and works closely with the Chief Clinical Executive, Dr Stefan Smuts and other senior managers in the company to drive all healthcare workers in complying to strict hand hygiene protocols.

Another focus is the implementation of IPC bundles. “These are a set of evidence-based practices developed by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement in the US. They have been proven to improve patient outcomes, when performed collectively and consistently,” explains Du Toit.

The bundles provide a structured way of enhancing the care process for patients undergoing treatment associated with inherent risks. Collating a set of best practices into standard bundles empowers nurses and doctors to provide the specific care their patients need, accurately and effectively, and prevent the development of  infections. “Each bundle ties together a package of interventions that must be followed for every patient, every single time.”

Mediclinic’s IPC bundles are designed to achieve a range of objectives:

  • Ensure the delivery of the minimum standard of care
  • Ensure consistent patient care
  • Prevent healthcare-associated infections
  • To assess the consistent delivery of interventions
  • Engage staff in the implementation of evidence-based practices

It is important to note, Du Toit explains, that all elements of a bundle have to be implemented to ensure optimal patient benefits. Each hospital needs to ensure that all parts of the strategy are adhered to at all times.

As a result of greater compliance and higher standards across the hospital group, Mediclinic has seen a significant improvement of between 35% and 69% in the various healthcare-associated infections since the implementation of the bundles.

Published in Business