A veterinary team’s best work can be undone by a breach in infection control, prevention, and biosecurity (ICPB).
Such a breach, in the practice or home-care setting, can lead to medical, social, and financial impacts on patients, clients, and staff, as well as damage the reputation of the hospital. To mitigate these negative outcomes, the AAHA ICPB Guidelines Task Force believes that hospital teams should improve upon their current efforts by limiting pathogen exposure from entering or being transmitted throughout the hospital population and using surveillance methods to detect any new entry of a pathogen into the practice. To support these recommendations, these practice-oriented guidelines include step-by-step instructions to upgrade ICPB efforts in any hospital, including recommendations on the following: establishing an infection control practitioner to coordinate and implement the ICPB program; developing evidence-based standard operating procedures related to tasks performed frequently by the veterinary team (hand hygiene, cleaning and disinfection, phone triage, etc.); assessing the facility’s ICPB strengths and areas of improvement; creating a staff education and training plan; cataloging client education material specific for use in the practice; implementing a surveillance program; and maintaining a compliance evaluation program.
Practices with few or no ICPB protocols should be encouraged to take small steps. Creating visible evidence that these protocols are consistently implemented within the hospital will invariably strengthen the loyalties of clients to the hospital as well as deepen the pride the staff have in their roles, both of which are the basis of successful veterinary practice.