At Kingston Hospital, we take infection prevention and control very seriously. Some patients arrive with an infection, while many patients have conditions that make them vulnerable to one.
Our Infection Prevention & Control Team (IPCT) monitor and report infection rates and work closely with staff to ensure we follow our Hygiene Code.
Patients and visitors can help greatly with preventing infection. On this page you will find information about various types of infection – and the measures you can take to avoid them.
The main one is hand hygiene. Keeping your hands clean is one of the principal ways of preventing infection. We have foam hand sanitiser dispensers at all entrances and in all clinical areas, while there are also sinks where you can wash with soap and water.
We have produced a series of patient information leaflets – you can download them here.
Sub-section 1: Diarrhoea and vomiting (D&V)
Some patients experience these symptoms while at Kingston Hospital. This can be caused by their medical condition, or by a tummy bug such as Norovirus.
Such bugs can last for two or three days and can spread very quickly. We have a series of measures to deal with them:
Isolation: We put people with D&V in side rooms or bays, which are closed to new admissions until everyone is symptom-free for 48 hours.
Hygiene: Soap and water are used for cleaning hands, while staff wear gloves and yellow aprons while caring for patients in isolation.
Cleaning: We clean spillages of D&V promptly, disinfect hard surfaces using chlorine and change curtains during and after the outbreak.
You can play your part as follows:
- Stay in the isolation area unless instructed to do so by staff.
- Wash your hands with soap and water before eating and after using the toilet.
- If you experience a tummy upset while in hospital, tell a member of staff.
- Do not walk around the ward or chat with patients apart from the person you have come to see.
- Do not sit on patients’ beds.
- Do not eat or drink in the ward.
- Put on gloves and an apron while visiting if asked to do so.
- If you are feeling unwell, or have a tummy upset, do not visit.
- Please do not bring children with you.
Sub-section 2: Influenza (flu)
Flu is a serious, highly infectious disease that can lead to pneumonia and bronchitis.
The elderly, young adults and children are at greatest risk, as are people with heart, lung and kidney conditions, diabetes, anaemia and weakened immune systems.
Symptoms include fever, cough, headache, sore throat, weakness, aching muscles and joints and extreme fatigue.
You can catch flu from direct or indirect contact with someone who has it and is coughing and sneezing. You become unwell within one to three days of picking up the virus.
Adults can pass it on between three and five days from showing symptoms. In children, this can be up to seven days. People with weak immune systems can carry the virus and pass it for several weeks.
Preventing the spread of flu
- Always use a disposable tissue to cover your mouth and nose when you cough, sneeze or blow your nose.
- Throw tissues in the bin once used.
- Avoid touching your nose and mouth.
- Always clean your hands after sneezing, coughing or wiping or blowing your nose – and before and after contact with someone with flu.
If you have flu symptoms, please do not visit anyone in hospital.
Sub-section 3: Clostridium difficile (C.diff)
Sometimes, when a patient takes antibiotics to treat an infection, this can allow bacteria like C.diff to cause illness. The main symptom is frequent, watery, explosive diarrhoea, often accompanied by abdominal pain.
C.diff produces hardy spores that can survive for long periods in the local environment, which means it can be passed on to other patients.
Measures we take towards reducing C.diff include:
- We have a strict antibiotic policy to ensure patients are given the right treatment while they are in hospital.
- Hand hygiene is a top priority at Kingston Hospital and we check on a monthly basis that our procedures are being followed. Soap and water must be used for cleaning hands because foam hand sanitiser is not effective against C.diff.
- We monitor the cleanliness of the environment and equipment regularly.
- Our IPCT check our isolation procedures.
- Our IPCT train staff on an annual basis, including a section on C.diff.
Sub-section 4: MRSA
MRSA is a bacterium that can affect those who are ill. It causes symptoms including boils, abscesses, chest infection and urine infection.
It has been around since the 1960s but has become resistant to some antibiotics and is now more common.
There are many reasons for this. Older people are getting illnesses connected to long-term health problems that require antibiotics; we now treat some illnesses with antibiotics that would usually heal themselves in time; and the bugs are becoming harder to treat as they become resistant to antibiotics.
MRSA spreads from person to person by entering the body through a wound or break in the skin.
About three per cent of people are carriers of MRSA. If you are a carrier, it can be treated with antiseptic shampoo and cream, or with antibiotics.
If you have MRSA, you can take the following measures:
- Bring your own toiletries and do not share them.
- Make regular, thorough hand-washing part of your daily routine, especially before eating or handling food, after using the toilet, after blowing your noise, coughing or sneezing and after handling rubbish.
- Make sure your visitors wash their hands – and ask them to check with the nurse before bringing in food or flowers.
- When taking antibiotics, finish the course even if you feel better.
- Tell people not to visit if they have immunity problems.
- Make sure you and everybody around you washes their hands after using the toilet, touching animals, handling rubbish, preparing food and blowing their nose, coughing or sneezing.
- Wash your clothes and bedding separately at the highest temperature the fabric can take.