The potential for transmission of infection must be assessed at the patient’s entry to the care area. If hospitalised or in a care home setting this should be continuously reviewed throughout the stay/period of care. The assessment should influence placement decisions in accordance with clinical/care need(s).
Patients who may present a cross-infection risk in any setting includes those:
- With diarrhoea, vomiting, an unexplained rash, fever or respiratory symptoms.
- Known to have been previously positive with a Multi-drug Resistant Organism (MDRO) e.g MRSA, CPE.
- Who have been hospitalised (inpatient) outside Scotland in the last 12 months.
Isolation facilities should be prioritised depending on the known/suspected infectious agent (refer to Aide Memoire - Appendix 11). All patient placement decisions and assessment of infection risk (including isolation requirements) must be clearly documented in the patient notes.
The clinical judgement and expertise of the staff involved in a patient's management and the Infection Prevention and Control Team (IPCT) or Health Protection Team (HPT) should be sought particularly for the application of TBPs e.g. isolation prioritisation when single rooms are in short supply.
- Isolation of infectious patients can be in specialised isolation facilities, single room isolation, cohorting of infectious patients where appropriate, ensuring that they are separated by at least 3 feet (1 metre) with the door closed.
- Signage should be used on doors/areas to communicate isolation requirements and prevent entry of unnecessary visitors and non-essential staff.
- Infectious patients should only be transferred to other departments if medically necessary. If the patient has an infectious agent transmitted by the airborne/droplet route then if possible/tolerated the patient should wear a surgical face mask during transfer.
- Receiving department/hospital and transporting staff must be aware of the necessary precautions.
Care home settings:
- Residents should remain in their bedroom whilst considered infectious (as described above) and the door should remain closed (if unable to isolate this should be documented).
- If transfer to hospital is required the ambulance service should be informed of the infectious status of the resident.
- Advice on resident’s clinical management should be sought from GP, and infection prevention and control management sought from the HPT.
- Avoid unnecessary transfer of residents within/between care areas.
Staff cohorting; consider assigning a dedicated team of care staff to care for patients in isolation/cohort rooms/areas as an additional infection control measure during outbreaks/incidents. This can only be implemented if there are sufficient levels of staff available (so as not to have a negative impact on non-affected patients’ care).
Before discontinuing isolation; individual patient risk factors should be considered (e.g. there may be prolonged shedding of certain microorganisms in immunocompromised patients).
Primary care/out-patient settings:
- Patients attending these settings with suspected/known infection/colonisation should be prioritised for assessment/treatment e.g. scheduled appointments at the start or end of the clinic session. Infectious patients should be separated from other patients whilst awaiting assessment and during care management by at least 3 feet (1m).
- If transfer from a primary care facility to hospital is required the ambulance service should be informed of the infectious status of the patient.
Further information can be found in the patient placement literature review.