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Infection Prevention and Control Information for Healthcare Professionals

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Halton Region Public Health supports the use of infection prevention and control (IPAC) best practices by healthcare professionals. The goal of IPAC practices is to reduce the risk of transmission of infectious diseases, prevent outbreaks, and protect the health of those accessing services and working in healthcare settings. This page provides resources for healthcare professionals to implement appropriate IPAC measures in their workplaces.

Best Practice Guidelines and Standards

The Provincial Infectious Diseases Advisory Committee on Infection Prevention and Control (PIDAC-IPC) has developed evidence-based guidance documents for healthcare providers. Regulatory colleges, including the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario and the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario, require their members to adhere to PIDAC recommendations.

Public Health Ontario has prepared checklists for healthcare professionals to conduct self-assessments of their IPAC practices. These checklists are also used by public health inspectors and regulatory colleges when doing inspections and investigations related to IPAC practices.

Tips for safe IPAC practices

Healthcare professionals are encouraged to follow these tips for safe IPAC practices:

  • Be familiar with and follow PIDAC best practices.
  • Use appropriate cleaning agents and hospital-grade disinfectants. Always clean examination beds between patients.
  • Post signage about hand hygiene and cough etiquette in patient areas.
  • Use safety-engineered needles.
  • Use single-dose vials when possible. If multi-dose vials are used, label the vial with the date of opening, and discard as per manufacturer instructions or within 28 days, whichever is sooner.Single use only graphic
  • Do not reuse single-use items. Packaging with the number 2 in a circle with a bar through it indicates that the medical equipment/device is single-use only.
  • Dispose of medical waste appropriately.
  • Follow appropriate reprocessing practices, including:
    • Have written policies and procedures for all aspects of reprocessing.
    • Verify the sterilizer you are intending to purchase and/or use has a Health Canada medical device license and is legal for sale and use in Canada.
    • Ensure that the manufacturer’s instructions for installation, operation, cleaning and preventative maintenance of the sterilizing equipment are followed.
    • Ensure the staff person responsible for reprocessing has been appropriately trained.
    • Maintain one-way flow from dirty to clean in the reprocessing area.
    • Clean devices at point of use.
    • Use external and internal chemical indicators for every packaged item during sterilization.
    • Use a biological indicator each day the sterilizer is in use and with each type of cycle that is used that day.
    • Monitor and document the reprocessing process (e.g., biological indicators, chemical indicators). Maintain sterilization logs.

Additional references:

Policy and Procedure Templates

Healthcare settings should have written policies and procedures describing how IPAC practices are implemented in the workplace, as described in the PIDAC best practice documents. The templates below are a starting point for regulated health professionals and workplaces to begin developing their own policies and procedures specific to their practice. The templates should be dated, signed and amended to reflect the specific activities that occur in the healthcare setting. They should be reviewed regularly to ensure they are up to date. Additional IPAC-related policies and procedures may be required depending on the setting.

Role of Halton Region Public Health

Halton Region Public Health works with healthcare professionals to support IPAC best practices through education, guidance and enforcement.

Halton Region Public Health is not mandated to routinely assess IPAC practices in facilities where regulated health professionals operate. However, the health unit has a provincially mandated responsibility to investigate matters related to IPAC lapses and enforce IPAC best practices in accordance with the Health Protection and Promotion Act, R.S.O. 1990, C. H.7 and Protocols published under the Ontario Public Health Standards.

As per the Infection Prevention and Control Complaint Protocol, 2019, Halton Region Public Health must investigate complaints about improper infection prevention and control practices or cases in which reportable diseases may be linked to the activities of regulated health professionals. Investigations may be conducted independently by the health unit or as a joint investigation with a regulatory college(s). If an IPAC lapse is identified and there is risk of disease transmission, Public Health must ensure that corrective action is taken, and publicly disclose the lapse as per Infection Prevention and Control Complaint Protocol, 2019. When a lapse involves a regulated healthcare professional, Halton Region Public Health is also required to notify their regulatory college.

Learning and Professional Development

Public Health Ontario offers free online modules that provide additional training on IPAC Core Competencies, IPAC Risk Assessment, and Reprocessing in Community Healthcare settings.

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