A Case of Meningococcal Disease in Healthcare Workers

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An infectious disease is one that is triggered by various pathogens that can be transmitted by means of either a biological or physical agent to a host. Some of the common infectious diseases are as follows: influenza, mononucleosis, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), hepatitis, and tuberculosis, and meningococcal disease. Having an infectious disease management program in place can cut down considerably on the possibility of spreading the infection and thus putting more people, including both hospital staff and patients at risk.

In the journal Lancet, of November 11, 2000, researchers Anna Gilmore, James Stuart, and Nick Andrews, describe the risk to health-care workers who are exposed to meningococcal disease. In the particular situation discussed by these researchers, modes of contact for the primary infection included while doctor was performing a full clinical admission when patient coughed in doctor's face, daily contact with infected patients, during the process of airway insertion of a patient on an ambulance, during delivery and fitting of oxygen while patient was restless, and close contact with coughing, crying child over a prolonged period of time.

Organizational Management Behavior
Awareness: The first step in dealing with the potential threat for infections is awareness. Health care workers are, or should be aware of the potential for infection in the hospital setting but this should not be taken for granted. A good program that will cut down on the potential for infections should start with ascertaining that these health care workers do have the necessary knowledge. While the most effective way might be to test the knowledge of these workers with respect to modes of transmission of various infectious diseases, a more effective method might be a regular program of discussions among health care workers regarding how they could avoid being the victims of such infections. Probably quarterly meetings of health care staff where issues of this nature are discussed are likely to keep the issue on the forefront for all health care workers, at least, until the next meeting. At such meetings, staff may focus both on the possibility of avoiding such infections in their particular setting and also discuss what might have occurred in other settings. The citing of current or past journal articles should be encouraged. Since it might appear unnecessary to focus on only one topic every three months, staff may focus on different particular issues regarding the health care setting but with the view to protecting both staff and patients foremost on everyone's mind.

Hygiene regime:
Nurses and health care staff, as part of their routine operations, often have to touch patients or articles that are infected. A regular program of hand hygiene, through either washing or hand disinfections, can cut down on the rate of cross-infection in hospitals (Pittet 2). Though this seems to be an elementary item in the health care setting it appears that in many cases there is poor compliance among health care workers, with doctors being the worst offenders (Pittet 2). To increase compliance, it is important to raise what seems to be a minor matter to one of giant proportions. By dramatizing the situation and showing what some of the negative outcomes might be for neglecting hand washing, it might be possible to increase compliance. A Hand Washing campaign that enlists the help of patients is likely to be the most effective. This might meet with initial resistance from health care workers, but plastering the hospital with posters that empower patients to ask health care workers if they have washed their hands prior to dealing with them could be very useful. Since health care workers would want to say yes rather than go and wash their hands to show that they have not already done so, it appears that such a campaign would promote hand-washing frequency among health care workers. But it should not be limited to health care workers.

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