Policy Issue Date : October 2008
The main objectives of surveillance of Healthcare Associated Infections are:
Surveillance is part of routine infection prevention and control activity.
Prompt recognition of one or more alert organisms or conditions in the same clinical area is vital to institute additional control measures. These measures may reduce the spread of the organism and prevent outbreaks.
Collection of accurate data allows comparison with other units and measurement of response to changes in practice (e.g. audit).
1. Laboratory-based ward liaison surveillance is used in conjunction with “Alert organism/Alert condition” surveillance. The system is managed by the Infection Prevention Control Team and details are reported to the Infection Control Committee.
2. Mandatory/regional surveillance
Two organisations are involved with this type of surveillance in Northern Ireland:
Laboratory-based ward / unit liaison surveillance (Alert Organisms)
You must tell the infection control team about any alert conditions or organisms!
Microbiology results of alert organisms are reviewed by the Infection Prevention Control Team and highlighted to clinical staff for the appropriate infection control measures to be put in place and source isolation commenced as required. Read more about Isolation.
Examples of Alert Organisms
Alert conditions are medical syndromes which immediately suggest a risk of infection and can include: - diarrhoea or vomiting, rash, pyrexia of unknown origin, chicken pox, suspected tuberculosis etc.
It is the responsibility of the staff to notify the infection control team if they suspect an infection which may be a risk to others and to immediately initiate relevant infection control measures.
Appropriate specimens must be taken and sent promptly, properly labelled, to the laboratory (e.g. the first diarrhoeal stool from a patient must be sent for culture & sensitivity and Clostridium difficile toxin testing).
Notifiable Diseases in Northern Ireland
1. Healthcare Infection Surveillance Centre (HISC) Available at http://www.hisc.n-i.nhs.uk/
2. Health Protection Agency – Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre Northern Ireland (HPA-CDSCNI) Available at http://www.cdscni.org.uk/
3. Ayliffe GAJ, Fraise AP, Geddes AM, Mitchell K. Control of hospital infection. A Practical Handbook. 4th Edition 2000 Oxford: Butterworth and Heinneman