FUNERAL AND EMBALMING TIMES
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Infection control


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Author Topic: Infection control  (Read 3355 times)
Anubis
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As we speak to more and more funeral and embalming professionals we find some interesting things. We tend to find that healthcare providers do not give as much information as they probably should when it comes to the risks associated with the deceased in relation to potential infections and the cause of death. Very often the death certificate will state that the cause of death was heart failure but the route cause may have been an MRSA infection for instance. I would be very interested to hear any views on this.
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The NVQman
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I work in the healthcare sector as a trainer and assessor and the problem i come across regularly when discussing MRSA, VRE etc is that the hospitals blame the care homes and the care homes blame the hospitals for poor standards of infection control. It is my firm belief that no progress will be made until the blame culture is overcome by good quality, well presented and frequent training. Your point about lack of information is typical of what i'm talking about but i hadn't thought about this particular industry before.
I will look forward to any thoughts on the matter
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Anubis
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It's common practice in the UK not to reveal the true cause of death on death certificates.
A simple example is that it may state the cause of death as heart failure when in fact the infection that subsequently brought on the heart failure was MRSA.
Typical pathogens that cause big problems in the UK, but not necessarily death, are MRSA, Clostridium Difficile and Norovirus. Also TB is the fastest growing infection when years ago it had almost been eliminated here.
Infection control is, in many cases, a simple matter of awareness and common sense.
The problem is that bugs can't be seen and as a consequence they are not considered as a serious threat.
Over-use of antibiotics has also been a problem for many years and pathogens have steadily built up resistance to them with many new strains developing.
Funeral directors and embalmers are in a high risk category.
The main problem here is that in many instances the funeral director or embalmer does not know the cause of death and they certainly don't know whether or not dangerous pathogens may be present.
Also, and this is the same with domestic products, many of the products used as cleaners and disinfectants have not been tested to rigorous standards.
For example, a bactericide will not kill viruses, spores and fungi yet there is a common misconception that the use of a disinfectant is good enough.
HIV, Hepatitis B and C, Norovirus and Influenza are viruses and Clostridium Difficile is both a bacteria and a spore so it could be quite possible to use a bactericide and not kill any of these.
Awareness and education is vital and thankfully it appears that funeral directors and embalmers are progressively taking infection control seriously.
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steve mccarthy (McCarthy UK Repatriation)
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I was lead to believe that the reason that the hospitals can not disclose the type of infection the deceased has died from or may be carrying is due to  Data protection/Patient confidentiality. In my experience I have always had good working relationships with the hospitals and may not know the exact infection but would be told if extra precautions should be taken when handling the deceased and also if embalming would be safe. The hospitals or health authority have a duty of care to protect the funeral staff from infection, by not giving sufficient information on the infection, funeral directors are unable to make a balanced judgment on what precaustions to take, the hopitals are therefore  surely failing in their duty. I'm sure this debate will go on until it is raised at a national level until then, PPE (personel protective equipment) such as gloves should always be used when handling the deceased, regardless of infection being present or not.
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Anubis
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The last posting is exactly correct however I must urge caution.
Gloves are not the total answer. It is true that they are an important part of infection control but if you don't clean your hands before you put them on all you end up doing is turning them into incubators.
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