Preventing Nosocomial Infections

A successful infection control program can not only help reduce mortality and morbidity rates in care facilities but can also be very cost-effective for health care organisations. Considering that one third of all nosocomial infections are preventable, prevention and control measures need to be a priority for any health care organisation.

To fight infections which occur in health care settings an approach using various integrated prevention measures is considered the most effective. This includes such measures as good hygiene practices by health care employees, invasive medical devices free from contamination, therapy pool disinfectant programmes, and continuous disinfecting of rooms and equipment throughout the health care facility.

Disinfecting means the use of a chemical procedure to eliminate virtually all recognised pathogenic micro organisms but not necessarily all microbial forms on inanimate objects. Antimicrobials such as iodine, chlorhexidine, 70% isopropyl alcohol solution, and hexachlorophene are frequently used in hospitals and other health care facilities. Chlorhexidine and hexachlorophene are active against many micro organisms but are less effective against gram-negative bacteria.

Ozone is a powerful, broad-spectrum antimicrobial agent that has been found to be effective against bacteria, fungi, viruses, protozoa, and bacterial and fungal spores. The anti-microbial activity of ozone is based on its strong oxidizing effect, which causes damage to the fatty acids in the cell membrane.

A big problem in controlling infections is that some strains of bacteria can actually build up a resistance to certain chemical disinfectants. Ozone, on the other hand, kills bacteria within a few seconds by a process known as cell lysing. Ozone molecularly ruptures the cellular membrane, disperses the cell’s cytoplasm and makes reactivation impossible. Because of this, micro organisms cannot develop ozone resistant strains, thus eliminating the need to change biocides periodically.

Because of application advantages such as this, ozone technology fits in well with other disinfectants in a combined strategy to prevent nosocomial infections.