Infection control

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In health care, infection control is defined as "programs of disease surveillance, generally within health care facilities, designed to investigate, prevent, and control the spread of infections and their causative microorganisms."[1] A variety of specialties work in infection control programs, including infectious disease physicians, nursing, biostatistics and microbiology.

The goal of infection control is to prevent cross infections (also called hospital infection or nosocomial infection) such as ventilator-associated pneumonia, surgical site infections, and infections of indwelling catheters, such as central venous catheters and urinary catheters.

Clinical practice guidelines by a multi-society collaboration[2] and by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention[3] address infection control.

Precautions to prevent cross infections

  • Standard precautions combine universal precautions[4] and body substance isolation (BSI)
  • Contact precautions
  • Droplet precautions. "Droplet transmission is, technically, a form of contact transmission, and some infectious agents transmitted by the droplet route also may be transmitted by the direct and indirect contact routes. However, in contrast to contact transmission, respiratory droplets carrying infectious pathogens transmit infection when they travel directly from the respiratory tract of the infectious individual to susceptible mucosal surfaces of the recipient, generally over short distances, necessitating facial protection. Respiratory droplets are generated when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks, or during procedures such as suctioning, endotracheal intubation, cough induction by chest physiotherapy and cardiopulmonary resuscitation."[3] Usually droplets are >5 μm in size. Droplets are usually considered to travel 3-4 feet, but may travel 10 feet.[3]
  • Airborne Precautions. "Airborne transmission occurs by dissemination of either airborne droplet nuclei or small particles in the respirable size range containing infectious agents that remain infective over time and distance."[3]


  1. Anonymous (2022), Infection control (English). Medical Subject Headings. U.S. National Library of Medicine.
  2. Yokoe, Deborah S.; Leonard A. Mermel, Deverick J. Anderson, Kathleen M. Arias, Helen Burstin, David P. Calfee, Susan E. Coffin, Erik R. Dubberke, Victoria Fraser, Dale N. Gerding, Frances A. Griffin, Peter Gross, Keith S. Kaye, Michael Klompas, Evelyn Lo, Jonas Marschall, Lindsay Nicolle, David A. Pegues, Trish M. Perl, Kelly Podgorny, Sanjay Saint, Cassandra D. Salgado, Robert A. Weinstein, Robert Wise, David Classen (2008-10-01). "Executive Summary: A Compendium of Strategies to Prevent Healthcare-Associated Infections in Acute Care Hospitals". Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology 29 (s1): S12-S21. DOI:10.1086/591060. Retrieved on 2008-10-10. Research Blogging.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Siegel JD, Rhinehart E, Jackson M, Chiarello L, and the Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee (2007). Guideline for Isolation Precautions in Hospitals. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Summary at National Guidelines Clearinghouse
  4. Anonymous (2022), Universal precautions (English). Medical Subject Headings. U.S. National Library of Medicine.