Infection control and healthcare-associated infections
The most important task within the area of infection control is preventing infections from spreading and healthcare-associated infections from emerging. As the problem of resistance increases, good infection control becomes a means of preventing antibiotic resistance from spreading.
In accordance with Swedish law, our healthcare must be of good quality and have a good standard of hygiene. In order to ensure that healthcare providers can offer all patients treatment with good hygiene standards, there must be access to expertise in infection control which is tied to a Infection Control Unit consisting of Infection Control Practitioners.
At present, there are Infection Control Practitioners on regional level who, by providing the health and social care services with expert knowledge, are responsible for developing practices that will prevent healthcare-associated infections from emerging and spreading.
Efforts to improve patient safety
Since the early 2000's, Sweden has worked actively to improve patient safety. The efforts to prevent healthcare-associated infections are a prioritised area of patient safety. National surveys that have been conducted since 2008 show that just below 10 per cent of all hospitalised patients contract such an infection. The efforts to improve infection control is an important and decisive factor in ensuring that fewer patients contract a healthcare-associated infection.
The Public Health Agency of Sweden acts to limit healthcare-associated infections from emerging and spreading within the health and social care services by:
- mapping the incidences of healthcare-associated infections and antibiotic-resistant bacteria
- analysing and reporting back on the development
- supporting the implementation of knowledge as part of the preventative efforts
- acting to ensure that there is a comprehensive and structured approach to prevent healthcare-associated infections from emerging and spreading within healthcare and social care
- acting to ensure that it is considered unacceptable for infections to spread within the health and social care services.
The Agency produces a knowledge base and participates in the development of national recommendations and guidelines. The work also includes participating in Nordic and European networks in this field.
One example of an initiative is that the Public Health Agency of Sweden, together with the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions, has developed a comprehensive information kit called "Rena händer räddar liv" (Clean hands save lives), to help improve hand hygiene within the health and social care services. The material includes posters, folders and brochures.
As of 2014, the Public Health Agency of Sweden conducts reoccurring prevalence surveys of healthcare-associated infections and antibiotic consumption within long-term care facilities in Sweden with the objective of supporting the preventative efforts within the area. The measurements are based on the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control's (ECDC) protocol for prevalence surveys within long-term care facilities in Europe, called HALT (Healthcare-associated infections and antimicrobial use in long-term care facilities).