We are committed to keeping our patients safe at Scarborough Health Network (SHN), including preventing the spread of infectious diseases. Our health care teams of staff and doctors follow many infection and prevention control measures — and patients and visitors can play their part too.
How to protect yourself and others while in the hospital
Infections happen when germs enter the body, multiply, and cause harm or illness. Patients in hospital are more at risk of getting infections because they tend to have weaker immune systems. Fortunately, there are a number of ways that we all can help to prevent the spread of infections.
Clean your hands
Since the main way that germs are spread is with our hands, it’s extremely important that we keep our hands clean. Good hand hygiene means cleaning your hands either by rubbing with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer or by washing with soap and water.
When to clean your hands:
- After using the bathroom
- After blowing your nose/coughing
- Before eating or drinking
- When visibly dirty
- When leaving and returning to the patient room
Follow isolation precautions
Patients with a particular infection or who are at risk may be placed on special precautions, or isolation. If you are on isolation, your nurse will provide you and your family with information about the precautions and any instructions that will need to be followed by anyone going into your room—such as wearing a mask, gloves, or gown to prevent the spread of infections. A sign will also be placed on the door of your inpatient room.
Tips to keep safe
There are many other ways to protect yourself and others from getting an infection while at the hospital, including:
- If you have a fever, cough, or diarrhea, or any change in your condition, tell your health-care team
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, or cough or sneeze into your sleeve so germs don’t spread
For caregivers, family members and other visitors
- Make sure your immunizations are up to date
- Do not to visit when you are sick
Monitoring Healthcare Associated Infections
Healthcare Associated Infections (HAIs) are infectious diseases that are acquired in health care facilities, such as hospitals. Many HAIs are resistant to antimicrobials and can result in severe complications or even death. We monitor many of these diseases, as well as control practices.
Clostridioides difficile, or C. difficile, is a bacteria found in the gut that can cause diarrhea. You can get infected if you touch a surface that has been contaminated with C. difficile spores and then touch your mouth. Most cases of C. difficile occur in people who are taking antibiotics. Some antibiotics can destroy the normal bacteria in the gut causing C. difficile to multiply. When this occurs a C. difficile infection could develop. People with C. difficile infections may experience abdominal pain or swelling, diarrhea, fever, weakness, or nausea.
C. difficile is reportable to the Ministry of Health. Check out how SHN and other hospitals are doing.
Antibiotic resistance happens when germs like bacteria develop the ability to defeat the drugs designed to kill them. That means the germs are not killed and continue to grow. Infections caused by antibiotic-resistant germs are difficult, and sometimes impossible, to treat. In most cases, antibiotic-resistant infections require extended hospital stays, additional follow-up doctor visits, and costly and toxic alternatives.
Some of the AROs that SHN monitors include:
Carbapenemase Producing Enterobacteriaceae (CPE)
Carbapenemase Producing Enterobacteriaceae is a type of bacteria, often found in the gut, which is more resistant to antibiotic treatment. While these germs are harmless in the gut, they may cause infections if they pass into other parts of the body such as wounds, the bloodstream, or the urinary tract. CPE infections may cause fevers, pain, swelling or discharge from an infected wound. Some individuals can have CPE in their gut without showing any symptoms. This is called being colonized with CPE. Being colonized with CPE does not require treatment.
Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA)
Staphylococcus aureus is a common bacteria found on our skin. Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) is a type of staph bacteria that is more resistant to antibiotic treatment. While these germs are harmless, they may cause infections that could be passed on to others. MRSA infections may cause fevers, pain, swelling or discharge from an infected wound. Some individuals can have MRSA on their skin without showing any symptoms. This is called being colonized with MRSA. Treatment is usually not required for people colonized with MRSA.
Vancomycin Resistant Enterococcus (VRE)
Vancomycin Resistant Enterococcus (VRE) is a type of gut bacteria that is more resistant to antibiotic treatment. While these germs are harmless in the gut, they may cause infections if they pass into other parts of the body, such as wounds, the bloodstream, or the urinary tract. VRE infections may cause fevers, pain, swelling or discharge from an infected wound. Some individuals can have VRE on their gut without showing any symptoms. This is called being colonized with VRE. Treatment is usually not required for people colonized with VRE.
Bloodstream infections caused by MRSA and VRE are reported to the ministry of health. Check out how SHN and other hospitals are doing.
Respiratory infections can be caused by many different organisms, including influenza and COVID-19. Respiratory infections are monitored by SHN to prevent the spread to patients and staff. Common symptoms of respiratory infections include: fever, chills, headache, cough and muscle pain.
We monitor our staff to see how they are cleaning their hands. In particular, we monitor hand hygiene practice before contact with a patient staying in the hospital, and after contact with the patient.
Check out how SHN and other hospitals are doing with cleaning their hands.
Our Infection Prevention and Control Team
Our infection prevention and control team consists of health care professionals with specialized training, who are committed to fulfilling the hospital’s goals for patient and staff safety, and the promotion of best practices in infection prevention and control.
Our team is responsible for:
- Conducting infection surveillance to help decrease infection rates, and implementing prevention interventions and evaluating their impact
- Developing and implementing policies and procedures based on best practice guidelines
- Serving as an educational resource
- Promoting SHN’s patient and staff safety culture