• 31 March 2020
  • 7 min read

Your guide to the 10 Standard Infection Control Precautions (SICPs)

  • Josie Winter
    Clinical Consultant
  • 0
  • 10636
"You can promote respiratory and cough hygiene with your patients too. Providing tissues, plastic bags for used tissues and hand washing stations will all help."

In view of the Coronavirus crisis here's a reminder of the 10 Standard Infection Control Precautions.

Topics covered in this article

Thank you and introduction

The 10 Standard Infection Control Precautions (SICP)

1. Patient assessment for infection risk

2. Hand hygiene

3. Respiratory and cough hygiene

4. Personal protective equipment (PPE)

5. Safe management of equipment

6. Safe management of environment

7. Safe management of blood and body fluids

8. Safe management of linen

9. Safe disposal of waste (including sharps)

10. Occupational safety & Exposure

Thank you Josie!

Josie Winter of Advanced Clinical Solutions helped put this article together. You can find Josie and her team - if you need help dealing with compliance audits, clinical training, safety investigations, supervision/coaching of staff - get in touch with Josie!

What are SICPs?

SICPs are the essential standards of infection prevention and control measures taken by you and your organisation (normally in advance) to reduce the risk of spreading infections.

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When should we use SICPs?

SICPs should be used at all times, by you, your staff and with your clients. SICP’s should be used in every setting you are delivering care.

Can you identify the 10 SICPs healthcare workers need to know for virus control?

The 10 Standard Infection Control Precautions (SICP)

1. Patient assessment for infection risk

2. Hand hygiene

3. Respiratory and cough hygiene

4. Personal protective equipment (PPE)

5. Safe management of equipment

6. Safe management of environment

7. Safe management of blood and body fluids

8. Safe management of linen

9. Safe disposal of waste (including sharps)

10. Occupational safety & Exposure

1. Patient Assessment for Infection Risk

Your patients must be assessed for any infection risks prior to you accepting them into the organisation and continuously whilst they are in your organisation under your care.

This assessment should influence your decision on how to proceed with treatment.

Currently the symptoms we can use to determine an infection risk for Covid-19 are high temperature and a new persistent cough.

2. Hand Hygiene

This is considered the most important SICP when trying to reduce the spread of infection.

Your hands are the part of your body that are most likely to come into contact with people, surfaces and equipment, along with the pathogens that happen to be living there.

Remember viruses are not visible to the naked eye, meaning you will not always know what germs are being harboured on your hands.

Decontaminating your hands as quickly and as thoroughly as possible is essential.

This helps to protect you and anyone else you may come into contact with throughout the day.

Washing your hands properly is an essential part of your job.

What do we mean by 'Decontamination'?

“the use of physical or chemical means to remove, inactivate, or destroy pathogens on a surface or item to the point where they are no longer capable of transmitting infection and the surface or item is rendered safe for handling, use, or disposal”

3. Respiratory & Cough Hygiene

The aim of respiratory and cough hygiene is to reduce and prevent the risk of cross-transmission of respiratory illness and pathogens such as Covid-19.

Following the rules below will help you to stop the spread of infection through coughs and sneezes.

(Catch it, Bin it, Kill it)

• Cover your nose and mouth with a disposable tissue when sneezing, coughing, wiping and blowing the nose

• Dispose of all of your used tissues quickly into a waste bin

• Wash your hands with liquid soap and water after coughing, sneezing, using tissues, or after contact with respiratory secretions or anything contaminated by these secretions

• Keep hands contaminated with respiratory secretions (produced during coughing and sneezing) away from your eyes, nose and mouth

You can promote respiratory and cough hygiene with your patients too.

Providing tissues, plastic bags for used tissues and hand washing stations will all help.

4. PPE Personal protective Equipment

Personal protective Equipment is used to prevent or reduce the spread of infection.

You should be assessing your likely exposure to the infection and ensure PPE is worn that provides enough protection to you from the risks.

Just like you would protect yourself from exposure to the sun by wearing sunscreen and a hat, the same applies to IPC and PPE. PPE includes, gloves, aprons, eye protection and facemasks.

5. Safe Management of Equipment

Any equipment you use for healthcare, must be fit for purpose.

When you buy a car, it normally comes with a logbook, service history and receipts of any work it has undergone.

The same should apply to your equipment.

It is good practice to keep logs of when your equipment was purchased (including manufacturer warranties and quality checks) and any maintenance or servicing documentation that your equipment goes through.

Should anything ever go wrong with your equipment, you have the evidence to prove it has been well maintained and looked after.

6. Safe Management of Environment

To the naked eye, your care environment might look clean.

Floors are polished, windows glisten, rubbish is emptied and there is no obvious dust on the furniture.

However, there are millions of potentially dangerous micro-organisms on your surfaces such as door handles, toilet seats, rails, linen and tables.

In these critical areas, cleaning plays a vital role in reducing the risk of infection to you are your patients.

The cleaning, disinfection and sterilisation of equipment and surfaces are essential for making it safe.

Without these steps, microorganisms such viruses can survive and cause infection.

7. Safe Disposal of Waste

Any waste your organisation produces that may contain living microorganisms or their toxins and may have the potential to cause harm or infection in humans, is called hazardous waste.

It is highly likely that you will need to separate and segregate your waste.

Items like used gloves, aprons, swabs, dressings and other non-sharps that are contaminated with blood and bodily fluids will need segregation, if you are generating it in large amounts.

The way you safely dispose of this waste depends on a number of things:

− The type of the waste, whether it is sharp or non-sharp

− How likely it is to contain infectious microorganisms

− The quantity of the waste you generate

8. Safe Management of Blood & Bodily Fluids

Spillages of blood and other body fluids may transmit blood borne viruses.

Spillages must be decontaminated immediately by staff trained to undertake this safely.

Responsibilities for the decontamination of blood and body fluid spillages should be clear within each area/care setting.

It is good practice to ensure access to a dedicated blood/bodily fluid spillage kit.

9. Safe Management of Linen

For all infectious linen, that is linen that has been used by a patient who is known or suspected to be infectious and/or linen that is contaminated with blood and/or other body fluids.

You should follow these simple steps

− Place directly into a water-soluble / alginate bag and secure; then place into a plastic bag e.g. clear bag and secure before placing in a laundry receptacle. This applies also to any item(s) heavily soiled and unlikely to be fit for reuse.

− Used and infectious linen bags/receptacles must be tagged e.g. ward/care area and date.

− Store all used/infectious linen in a designated, safe, lockable area whilst awaiting uplift. Uplift schedules must be acceptable to the care area and there should be no build-up of linen receptacles.

10. Occupational Exposure

The final standard infection control precaution is occupational safety and exposure.

Occupational exposure happens when you come into contact with a potentially harmful physical, chemical, or biological agent as a result of your job.

Occupational exposure can come from a range of sources in your workplace. Normally they will fit into one of the following 3 categories:

1. Biological exposure

2. Chemical exposure

3. Physical exposure

Note on 'Biological Exposure'

If at any point in your job you are exposed to viruses then you will be instantly be at higher risk of biological exposure. Biological exposure happens if you work with people.

That's it. Hope that helps you practise safely and effectively!

About the author

  • Josie Winter
    Clinical Consultant

I’ve worked for the NHS - originally as an ODP - and for private healthcare organisations including a large corporate med-tech organisation. I’ve developed and delivered hundreds of clinical audits and quality improvement plans and trained thousands of healthcare staff in various clinical skills. I co-founded and head up a consultancy that helps healthcare providers achieve enhanced patient safety.

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  • Josie Winter
    Clinical Consultant

About the author

  • Josie Winter
    Clinical Consultant

I’ve worked for the NHS - originally as an ODP - and for private healthcare organisations including a large corporate med-tech organisation. I’ve developed and delivered hundreds of clinical audits and quality improvement plans and trained thousands of healthcare staff in various clinical skills. I co-founded and head up a consultancy that helps healthcare providers achieve enhanced patient safety.

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