Infection control

Infection can kill critically ill patients who might otherwise survive serious medical conditions. The layout of the ICU should incorporate some single rooms which can be used for isolation nursing. There should be sufficient space around the remaining beds to minimize infection spread by droplets and enough well-placed wash basins to facilitate hand-washing by staff. Hand-washing is extremely important in the control of infection, and if the hands are clean the use of alcohol hand rubs before and after procedures is quick and effective.

Close liaison between the ICU and the infection control team is essential if effective infection-control policies are to be established. Regular combined unit rounds by a consultant microbiologist and an intensive care consultant will ensure that antibiotics are used appropriately.

Largely as a result of the indiscriminate use of antibiotics in the last two decades, strains of multiresistant organisms have begun to emerge as a major problem in the 1990s.

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