Infection control in the mammography units of New South Wales, Australia and the Republic of Ireland
© BioMed Central Ltd 2008
Published: 7 July 2008
The goal of this research collaboration was to establish whether mammography units within New South Wales, Australia (NSW) and the Republic of Ireland (ROI) have dedicated mammography-specific infection control protocols and the extent of cleaning/disinfection of these units. Possible vectors for increased bio-load on hospitals/outpatient facilities specifically due to these mammography units were also examined. During mammography, patients' friable skin is in close contact with equipment/hands; possibility of infection spread is highest where immunity has been lowered by the disease process.
A questionnaire underpinned by worldwide infection control guidelines was formulated and circulated to radiographers in symptomatic/asymptomatic mammography units within the ROI and NSW.
Whilst mammography-specific infection control protocols were available in fewer ROI units (25%) than NSW units (32%), NSW mammographers (43%) had less access to documented protocols (versus 94% for ROI units). Significant variation in cleaning methods, consistency and procedures was observed in both regions. Infection control is not routinely included in the quality assurance process of all units.
Many aspects of infection control procedures are less than satisfactory. These procedures should be regulated with specific mammography infection control protocols within the quality assurance process to prevent patient cross-infection, with a consequent lowering of biological burden on hospital/outpatient facilities.