There are limited data and evidence-based studies that clearly measure the added benefits of infection control practices in veterinary practices.9,10 Nonetheless, the prevailing opinion within the profession, supported by evidence from other healthcare fields, is that veterinarians can more widely implement effective ICPB protocols and conduct staff training on ICPB to protect patient, staff, and client health.6,9,11 To help fill this void, the guidelines represent the consensus recommendations of experts with extensive ICPB experience in veterinary medicine and public health. Their recommendations reflect the latest scientific data, clinical expertise, and best practices for infection control. Thus, these guidelines address the growing public awareness of HAI, the emergence of drug-resistant microbes and infections, and the expectation that veterinary medicine will match or exceed ICPB initiatives in human medicine. More specifically, the objectives of the guidelines are to:
- Help veterinary practice teams understand the importance of ICPB and why it should be prioritized.
- Help practice teams implement appropriate ICPB protocols that enhance patient care and safety.
- Provide general concepts that guide effective ICPB (versus exhaustive information on all potential pathogens).
- Provide specific surveillance strategies and protocols that will allow practices to self-audit, assess, and adjust their SOPs for infection control.
- Provide resources for motivating and training staff to understand, implement, and comply with ICPB strategies.
- Provide practical information that can be adapted as client education materials.
Conversely, the purpose of the guidelines is not to focus on hospital design or the judicious use of antimicrobial agents, two ancillary topics that are more appropriately reviewed in other forums and publications. When the ICPB objectives listed above are met, it will inherently advance the quality of care provided by your practice. When clients see visible evidence that ICPB protocols are consistently implemented by your healthcare team (e.g., barrier precautions, take-home postsurgical instructions, posted ICPB protocols), it will invariably strengthen the mutual loyalties of the veterinarian-client-patient relationship that is the basis of successful veterinary practice.
AHS (alcohol-based hand sanitizer); HAI (hospital-acquired infections); ICP (infection control practitioner); ICPB (infection control, prevention, and biosecurity); MDR (multidrug resistant); MRSP (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus pseudintermedius); PPE (personal protective equipment); SOP (standard operating procedure); SSI (surgical site infection)