10 principles of infection control

Are you interested in knowing the 10 principles of infection control? Worry no more, I have the right info for you.

Infection control is a scientific approach and practical solution designed to prevent harm caused by infection to patients and health workers. It’s grounded in infectious diseases, epidemiology, social science, and health system strengthening.

Each of these principles requires a rigorous and systematic implementation to ensure a comprehensive infection control strategy in healthcare settings.

10 Principles of infection control an overview

Infection control refers to a set of practices and measures implemented to prevent the spread of infectious diseases in various settings, such as hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, schools, workplaces, and public spaces.

The primary goal of infection control is to protect individuals, patients, healthcare workers, and the general public from acquiring and transmitting infections.

What are some common modes of transmission of infections?

Infections can be transmitted through various routes, including:

  • Contact transmission (direct or indirect contact with infected individuals or contaminated objects)
  • Droplet transmission (inhalation of respiratory droplets from an infected person)
  • Airborne transmission (inhalation of tiny particles or dust containing infectious agents)
  • Vector-borne transmission (spread through vectors like mosquitoes or ticks)

The principles of infection control include:

  1. Hand Hygiene: This involves regularly and thoroughly cleaning hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or washing them with soap and water. Doing so kills viruses that may be on your hands. The WHO recommends a step-by-step process that should be followed for hand hygiene.
  2. Use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): PPEs like gloves, masks, goggles, face shields, and gowns protect healthcare workers from exposure to infectious agents. They must be used correctly, and training on their use is essential. Their use is particularly important when dealing with airborne, droplet, or contact transmissible diseases.
  3. Environmental Cleaning: This principle involves the regular cleaning and disinfection of surfaces around healthcare facilities. Regular cleaning of high-touch surfaces like bed rails, tables, light switches, etc., reduces the risk of infection.
  4. Sterilization of Instruments and Equipment: Sterilization processes (such as heat, chemicals, irradiation, or high pressure) are designed to eliminate all forms of life and biological agents from medical instruments or equipment. This is critical in surgical procedures and any treatment involving invasive devices.
  5. Isolation and Quarantine: Isolation is the separation of people with a contagious disease from those who are not sick, while quarantine refers to the practice of separating and restricting the movement of people exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick. These practices are crucial in preventing the spread of communicable diseases.
  6. Vaccination: Vaccines stimulate a person’s immune system to recognize and fight specific viruses or bacteria. When a large percentage of the population becomes immune, the spread of the disease slows down or stops, providing herd immunity.
  7. Safe Waste Management: Medical waste can pose a risk of infection, particularly sharps (like needles and scalpels) and biological waste. Safe handling, treatment, and disposal of this waste are crucial to avoid injury and prevent the spread of infection.
  8. Antimicrobial Stewardship: The goal is to optimize antibiotic use to achieve the best clinical outcomes while minimizing the emergence of antibiotic-resistant infections. It often involves selecting an appropriate drug, dose, and duration of therapy.
  9. Infection Surveillance: This involves ongoing, systematic collection, analysis, and interpretation of health data essential to planning, implementing, and evaluating public health practice. Surveillance can help detect outbreaks early and help in their management.
  10. Education and Training: It’s vital that everyone involved in patient care understands the principles of infection control. Continuous training ensures that healthcare workers are up-to-date with the latest procedures and techniques to minimize infection spread.
10 principles of infection
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Benefits of infection control

Infection control offers numerous benefits, both in healthcare settings and beyond. Here are some of the key advantages:

Preventing Infections

The primary benefit of infection control is the prevention of infectious diseases. By implementing effective measures, the spread of pathogens is minimized, reducing the risk of individuals acquiring infections.

Protecting Patients

Infection control practices in healthcare settings help protect vulnerable patients, such as those with weakened immune systems, chronic illnesses, or undergoing medical treatments. Preventing infections is especially crucial for these individuals, as they are more susceptible to severe complications.

Reducing Healthcare-Associated Infections (HAIs)

HAIs are infections that patients acquire during their stay in healthcare facilities. Infection control measures, such as proper hand hygiene, sterilization, and environmental cleaning, can significantly reduce the incidence of HAIs, improving patient outcomes and reducing healthcare costs.

Safety for Healthcare Workers

Infection control not only safeguards patients but also protects healthcare workers from contracting and spreading infections. By following appropriate precautions and wearing PPE, healthcare workers can reduce their risk of exposure to infectious agents.

Preventing Outbreaks

Infection control plays a crucial role in preventing outbreaks of infectious diseases. Early identification, isolation, and containment measures can help stop the spread of infections within communities and larger populations.


Implementing infection control measures can lead to cost savings in the long run. Preventing infections and reducing HAIs can decrease the length of hospital stays, the need for additional treatments, and the use of costly resources.

Preserving Antibiotics

Inappropriate use of antibiotics can lead to the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Infection control measures help minimize the need for antibiotics, preserving their effectiveness for future use.

Maintaining Public Health

Infection control is not limited to healthcare settings. It also includes public health measures such as vaccination campaigns, outbreak investigations, and containment strategies. These efforts contribute to overall public health and disease prevention.

Enhancing Community Well-being

By curbing the transmission of infectious diseases, infection control contributes to a healthier community, promoting productivity, and reducing the burden on healthcare systems.

Emergency Preparedness

Infection control practices are essential during public health emergencies, such as pandemics or natural disasters. Being prepared and implementing infection control measures swiftly can help limit the impact of these crises.

FAQs about the 10 Principles of infection control

See below for the answers to some of the most asked questions relating to principles of infection control;

What are the main objectives of Infection Control?

The main objectives of Infection Control are to:

  • Prevent the transmission of infectious agents from one person to another.
  • Reduce the risk of healthcare-associated infections (HAIs).
  • Protect healthcare workers, patients, and visitors from acquiring infections.
  • Maintain a safe and hygienic environment for healthcare delivery.

What are Standard Precautions?

Standard Precautions are a set of infection control practices that apply to the care of all patients in any healthcare setting.

These precautions include hand hygiene, use of personal protective equipment (PPE), safe injection practices, respiratory hygiene/cough etiquette, and safe handling of potentially contaminated equipment.

When should hand hygiene be performed?

Hand hygiene should be performed:

  • Before and after patient contact.
  • Before putting on and after removing gloves.
  • Before and after performing invasive procedures.
  • After contact with blood, bodily fluids, or contaminated surfaces.
  • When hands are visibly soiled.

What is the role of personal protective equipment (PPE) in infection control?

Personal protective equipment (PPE), such as gloves, gowns, masks, and eye protection, acts as a barrier to protect healthcare workers from contact with infectious agents.

PPE is used in situations where there is a risk of exposure to blood, bodily fluids, or other potentially infectious materials.


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