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Centre issues advisory, asks hospital workers to remove jewelry below elbow

As a safety measure and to ensure robust infection control practices at the workplace, all Central Government hospital health workers are now required to remove all types of jewellery below the elbow while on duty. They have also been directed to restrict the use of mobile phones in patient areas and critical zones including ICUs, HDUs, post-operative wards and operation rooms.

The one-page direction issued by the Health Ministry recently stated that the measures are being brought in to ensure the safety and well-being of both patients and staff and ensure infection control practices.”

“It has come to our attention that there is an immediate need to reinforce certain jewellery measures within our workplace. There is substantial evidence that wearing hand jewellery below the elbow increases total skin micro-organism counts. Similarly, use of mobile phones, while on duty especially in critical areas, poses infection risk,” said the order that has been issued to the heads of all Central Government hospitals.

The order is to be effective immediately to all healthcare workers and jewellery will include rings, bangles, bracelets, religious threads, and wristwatches.

“This precaution is essential to minimise the risk of infection transmission and to ensure that an optimum standard of hygiene and patient care are always maintained. Respective hospitals can revise their SOPs on hand hygiene and specifically mention where wristwatches are permitted. Also, there may be a need to develop and enforce a policy to restrict the use of mobile phone in specified areas,” said the order.

India is among the countries bearing the highest burden of hospital-associated resistant infections (HARI) globally, according to a recent publication “Antimicrobial Resistance: Addressing a Global Threat to Humanity’‘ which noted that the global number of HARIs is 136 million per year, with China, Pakistan and India bearing the heaviest burden.

Health-care-associated infections (HAIs), infections acquired while patients receive treatment for medical or surgical conditions, are among the most common complications occurring during health service delivery. It is associated with increased morbidity and mortality, prolonged hospital stays, and health-care costs, according to the article “Health-care-associated infection surveillance in India” published in the Lancet.

It added that in India, a large segment of the population seeks in-patient health care at secondary or district-level health facilities in public and private sectors, many of which have inadequate infection prevention and control measures. The major barriers to infection prevention and control implementation are scarcity of dedicated and trained staff, availability and inappropriate use of PPE, and sanitary and hygiene measures, compounded with patient overcrowding. The Hindu

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