Imagine Living with That! Infection Control and Patient Safety

hand washingSome of you have probably heard of Ignac Semmelweis, the Hungarian obstetrician who is best known for exhorting his fellow physicians to wash their hands with a chlorine solution before examining women about to deliver babies. If you’re not familiar with the story, it’s fascinating and you can Google his name and read all about it.

In a nutshell, he is known as the ‘father of infection control’ because his work demonstrated that doctors and medical students who routinely moved from dissecting corpses to examining new mothers without first washing their hands were passing the germs to the new mothers, causing the mothers’ rather mysterious deaths. Semmelweis’ advice was more profound than he probably ever imagined it would be, and infection control is as important today as it was back then.

In 2004, the United States Pharmacopeia developed guidelines for sterile preparation compounding, which were modified and updated in 2007. The standard, known as USP Chapter 797, focuses on the sterility and stability of a compounded sterile preparation (CSP).

Guidelines for keeping germs under control are applied more by those pharmacy technicians who work in the institutional pharmacy setting. These guidelines address such things as hand washing, dressing, maintaining and cleaning the Laminar flow Workbench (LAFW), guidelines for cleaning in the IV compounding area, air quality and filter systems, and how to handle hazardous agents.

As you prepare for the final exam and the national certification exam, please study these guidelines carefully. You need to know them because not only will you be tested on them, but, above all, patient safety is the most import part of your job as a pharmacy technician. In fact, Semmelweis once sadly remarked, ‘Only God knows the number of patients who went prematurely to their graves because of me.’ Imagine living with that!

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