CHICA-Canada Mental Health Interest Group report: Preliminary findings on current IPAC practices

Yu, Rebecca; Velyvis, Vytas
June 2012
Canadian Journal of Infection Control;Summer2012, Vol. 27 Issue 2, p93
Academic Journal
Background In 2001 the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that 450 million people worldwide were suffering from mental or behavioural disorders at any given time (1; 2). According to the Quick Facts by the Mood Disorders Society of Canada, "Chances of having a mental illness in your lifetime in Canada is one in five"(3). Treatment and management of mental or behavioural illnesses can be found in acute care hospitals, long-term care facilities, group homes, day/outreach treatment centres (5; 6), vocational rehabilitation, tertiary mental health hospitals, and correction facilities (3; 7; 8). Unlike physically ill patients in primary health care settings, most patients in mental/behavioural healthcare settings are not confined to beds. This highly mobile patient population with divergent behaviour is often a challenge to traditional infection prevention and control (IPAC) strategies, which makes the containment of infection difficult. The human interactions of "milieu therapy" and frequent change of communal living sites further contribute to the risk of healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) (2; 9). Consequently, a comprehensive infection prevention and control program (IPACP) specifically designed for the mental health population is the foundational requirement for the successful application of IPAC principles and practices. To address the challenges inherent in applying IPAC principles in the mental health setting, the CHICA-Canada Mental Health Interest Group (CHICA-MHIG) was founded by Mr. Jim Gauthier in 2005. The group's goal was to support members interested in the IPAC practices in mental and behavioural healthcare settings. Members often expressed a need to adapt IPAC practices to address unique patient populations with mental illness given a lack of relevant IPAC publications and references. Members also sought to learn from other members. In response, CHICA-MHIG launched a survey in November 2008 to investigate the IPAC practices among group members working in the mental health settings. The objective was to establish data on staff ratios, surveillance programs, admission screening protocols, immunization programs, hand hygiene programs, physician supports, special challenges and strategies, and guidelines and standards that have been referenced in program development. A literature search was also undertaken to examine the anecdotal claim that a lack of mental health specific IPAC references exists. This article represents the results of the survey and the literature review.


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