There’s a good reason why doctors are obsessed with washing their hands and hospitals are such sterile environments: A clean and thoroughly sanitized area is vital for preventing patient complications, namely infections.

A cross infection occurs when harmful microorganisms like bacteria and viruses transfer to a patient by way of another person or medical tools and equipment. It can also spread within the body. Such an infection can drastically delay wound healing and lead to more serious complications.

Here’s a quick overview of what you should know about cross infections:

The types and causes

Healthline noted that various types of cross infections can develop, such as a urinary tract infection caused by a catheter or a surgical wound infection that develops post-operation. Cross infections develop because bacteria, fungi, parasites or viruses are present in the affected area, but how they reach that location differs. Often, the microorganisms can spread through unsterilized medical equipment, coughing and sneezing, human contact, dirty bedding or touching contaminated items. Insecure wound dressings can also leave the affected area vulnerable to cross infection.

The symptoms

Signs of this kind of infected wound include fever, redness, swelling and pus. If you experience these symptoms, your doctor will likely perform a physical exam, blood or culture tests and X-rays to diagnose the infection.

“Preventing cross-contamination involves ensuring proper hygiene and practicing proper wound care.”

The treatment methods

Much like other wound infections, antibiotics can help treat cross infections. However, the details of the treatment plan will vary by patient.

The prevention

Preventing cross-contamination involves ensuring proper hygiene and practicing proper wound care, according to Wound Source. This includes performing sanitary wound bed preparation, using appropriate dressings and water-resistant medical adhesives, keeping the affected area clean and wearing gloves when touching the wound. Wound Source also noted that medical tape can often cause cross-infection, and advised patients and caregivers to use adhesives sold in single-use, hygienically sealed packets to ensure the tape is not contaminated. Diagnosing infections early can also prevent them from spreading to other areas of the body or to other patients.

Infection prevention is one of the most important elements of proper wound management. Talk to your doctor about smartPAC by Advanced Tissue to get your wound care supplies delivered straight to your front door. With video tutorials and single-dose packaging, smartPAC makes it easy to practice proper wound care at home.