How to Prevent Infection While Dealing with Wounds


The area must be cleaned so that any dirt is washed away and the wound must be covered with a dressing. A satisfactory dressing prevents micro-organisms from entering the wound but is porous enough to allow sweat to evaporate. If the dressing is not porous, the skin becomes moist, the dressing damp, and organisms multiply.

The most efficient way of preventing infection entering a wound is to eliminate micro-organisms from everything that comes into contact with the patient. This is done in two ways:

  • by sterilizing equipment
  • by using a “non-touch” technique when applying dressings.

STERILIZING EQUIPMENT

Micro-organisms are destroyed by fire, by steam under pressure, by boiling, by gamma radiation or chemical disinfection. Once organisms have been destroyed, the equipment can be used with safety. It is now usual for equipment to be sterilized either at the time of manufacture or in the Central Sterile Services Department (CSSD) of a hospital.

Disposable equipment

Everyone is familiar with pre-packaged sterile dressings, which may be bought from the chemist. They are part of a range of items sterilized by the manufacturers. The equipment is sealed into plastic or paper covers and sterilized, often by exposure to gamma radiation from a nuclear reactor. Unless the package is damaged in any way, the equipment remains sterile until the seal is broken. For extra safety, many articles are wrapped in two covers.

Gauze dressings, cotton wool balls, paper towels, foil containers for lotions, instruĀ­ments, syringes and catheters are all sterilĀ­ized in this way. It is also possible to obtain small plastic sachets of sterile lotion.

For convenience, all the equipment and dressings needed to carry out a nursing procedure, perform a minor operation, or dress a wound, are often packed together and sealed in a paper bag or packet. This is sterile and ready for use at any time. After use, everything should be put into a paper bag, wrapped in newspaper and put in the dustbin or burned.

Non-disposable equipment

Some items (such as glass syringes, metal or polythene jugs and bowls) are too expensive to be thrown away after use. In hospital the Central Sterile Services Department packs and sterilizes these items and delivers them to the wards and departments. After use, they are packed immediately in a paper bag, sealed and returned to the Department where they are cleaned, repacked and sterilized ready for use once more.

Filed Under: Health & Personal Care

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About the Author: Andrew Reinert is a health care professional who loves to share different tips on health and personal care. He is a regular contributor to MegaHowTo and lives in Canada.

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