Health care infection can happen in any healthcare setting. Though specific risks may be different but an effective infection control policy is paramount in any setting. In foot healthcare, there is major concerns about inhalation of nail dust. There are numerous cases reported among podiatrists of eye, nose and throat irritation due to this nail dust (NHS 2010).
It is important to understand that infection prevention and control practice are integral to foot care and are not an additional set of practices. So, it is important to have an effective infection control policy so that the healthcare providers are able to eliminate, reduce and manage a potential infectious situation. Any person with contagious condition, be it an employee or patient, entering the healthcare setting can put others at risk.
For an infection control policy to be effective, it should be clear, structured, realistic and practical so that it can be implemented with ease and perfection. The policy should be reviewed periodically to ensure it remains relevant and effective in the healthcare setting.
Instruments that are used in foot healthcare have complex surface structure and are exposed to a number of contaminants. It has been found that foot care instruments which appear clean on the outside, the internal picture is totally different. The instruments are not cleaned properly and some areas of instruments are difficult or even impossible to clean. Improper segregation of soiled and cleaned instruments during use or transport is another reason for contamination. An independent medical instruments sterilisation consultant also found another reason for improper cleaning of instruments that is the time constraints put on sterilisation staff. The instruments are cleaned in hurry and sometimes they are kept as it is for hours, even days before cleaning due to which blood and debris dries and settles. And if the instruments are not sterilised properly, heat can bake the debris on instruments (Barnsley 2011).
Many podiatry handpieces are not compatible with sterilisation procedure or automated cleaning. So if the instruments are not cleaned and sterilised properly, the residual protein left behind acts as source of infection and increases the dissolution of metal ions causing corrosion of stainless steel instruments. The residual protein also increases the adhesion of more bacteria and prevents sterilisation process (Smith, Gordon WG et al, 2011).
On deciding whether reusable instruments or single use instruments is a better choice, many factors have to be considered like reliability and quality, fragility, sterility, cost effective, wide variety of instrument options.
It is very important to have ‘peace of mind’ while treating a patient that the instrument will perform perfectly every time. Delay in treatment due to faulty instrument, replacement and adjustment of instrument or poor grip of instrument disturbs the healthcare professional and affects patient outcome. Reusable instruments are difficult to maintain, clean and handle but single use instruments totally negate this factor. Some factors of cost effectiveness of reusable instruments can be and some cannot be measured. Like price of instrument, cost of repair and maintenance can be measured but the stress that ensues among the staff and the physician when an instruments malfunction cannot be calculated. Every healthcare professional has different needs and styles of treatment and can decide for himself (Retinalphysician.com 2015).
Smith, Gordon WG et al. "Quantitative Analysis Of Residual Protein Contamination Of Podiatry Instruments Reprocessed Through Local And Central Decontamination Units". Journal of Foot and Ankle Research 4.1 (2011): 2. Web. 14 Jan 2017.
Dirty Surgical Instruments Putting Patients At Risk. 1st ed. Barnsley South Yorkshire S75 1JL UK: N.p., 2012. Web. 14 Jan 2017
Booty, Fleur and Karen Barraclough. Standard Infection Control Precautions. 3rd ed. NHS, 2010. Web. 14 Jan 2017.
"Disposable Vs Reusable Surgical Instruments: How To Decide?". Retinalphysician.com. N.p., 2015. Web. 14 Jan 2017.