New Zealand Hygiene Guidelines for Infection Prevention and Control

‘Healthcare Associated Infections (HAIs) are the most frequent form of patient harm’.2

In New Zealand, as with most other countries, there are no mandatory standards or guiding principles set by government departments to improve infection prevention practice in a therapy setting. The lack of mandatory practices doesn’t mean there isn’t a major issue with healthcare associated infections (HAIs) in therapy clinics.  According to Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC):

  1. HAIs are the ‘most frequent adverse event in healthcare’2
  2. ‘Many HAIs are potentially preventable adverse events rather than an unpredictable complication’2
  3. ‘Infections can have significant impact on patients’ lives causing unnecessary pain and suffering for them and their families. Infections prolong hospital stays, create long term disability, increase resistance to antimicrobials and even lead to unnecessary deaths’2
  4. HAIs are increasing in number with greater than 2500 accepted by the ACC in 2017/2018
  5. ‘HAIs come with a significant cost, which is an indicator of the impact on the person and their family’2

Based on these facts, the ACC has set objectives which aim to improve patient safety by providing health professionals with the tools necessary for best practice. Theyalso aim to improve processes by increasing patient and family awareness as well as using data collection and auditing tools.


How to tackle Health care associated infections in your clinic.

There are two ways to reduce HAIs in your clinic. One relates to the ongoing identification of issues, the other is six stringent hygiene practices you must adopt in your clinic.

In 2019, the Health Quality and Safety Commission New Zealand released the Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) walk rounds to assist hospitals problem-solve issues related to infection control and prevention with the main aimof improving patient care by improving ‘open communication and problem-solving of issues related to infection prevention’.1 These principles, which are based on existing evidence, can be applied to all therapy and office environments.


The walk rounds concept

Often in an organisation, employees and their managers will have different experiences in their work setting and will often be distanced by their responsibilities within the business. IPC is most effective when all members of a team work together. ‘Management by walking around is effective’1as it actively engages all staff towards achieving the same goal – improving patient safety and reducing Healthcare Associated Infections. It also help send a clear message to all staff that IPC is an important aspect of the organisation.

During the walk round, all staff are encouraged to highlight any issues or weakness within the current processes to help improve IPC practices and any improvements in these areas show that management is listening to its staff members, further increasing their willingness to continue to participate in future walk rounds.

During the walk rounds, all aspects of the facility should be covered. This includes not only covering central areas, like reception and waiting rooms, but also less public areas such as therapy rooms.

The walk round process should be an open discussion with everyone being allowed to voice their concerns, and all recommendations remaining anonymous. We recommend walk rounds should be performed at least 2 times per year, however, larger organisations may be required to perform walk rounds more frequently to achieve better outcomes. 

Following IPC walk rounds, the IPC practitioner should continue to keep communication open with the staff members regarding all the issues that were presented and provide feedback to address each of the concerns raised.


Six essential steps for impeccable hygiene in your clinic

There are six essential steps you must take to ensure hygiene in your clinic and during treatment.

Learn more about the six essential steps to hygiene in your clinic and during therapy here.