A regional approach to screening patients for infection transmission risk

Ms Sue Atkins1

1Department of Health and Human Services, Ballarat, VIC, Australia


Health services are expected to have strategies in place to minimize exposure of patients, the workforce, and the organisation to infectious agents. There are many assessment tools available; however within the Grampians Region Victoria, very few have adequate assessment criteria to assess infection risks.

In 2016 the Grampians Region Infection Control Group surveyed members in the region on how they determined the infectious status of patients on presentation to their urgent care center, and on admission to all areas of the health service. Results indicated this was not done well leading to the development of a tool to determine infection risk. The tool consists of six questions to identify a potential risk and trigger management strategies to prevent infection transmission. The tool was implemented in hospitals in the region in 2016 and their associated aged care homes in 2017.

The Grampians Region now have a standardized “Infection Prevention and Control Alert Screening” tool to assist with the timely identification of infectious diseases or conditions leading to the appropriate management of infection transmission risk. The tool has enabled early identification of potential risks that would not have been identified until after admission.

It is important that we identify the infectious status of patients as soon as possible on presentation or admission to our health services, to prevent infection transmission and potential outbreaks. The screening tool has provided a first point of reference to identify potential infection transmission risks to ensure immediate and appropriate management.


Sue is a NZ trained Registered Comprehensive Nurse and Infection Control Practitioner, and an Australian Credentialed Infection Control Professional. Sue has spent the last 15 years working in infection prevention and control in a variety of Australian settings, and is currently one of two Regional Infection Control Advisors for the Department of Health and Human Services, Grampians Region, Victoria. This position assists in facilitating a coordinated approach to the implementation of a state wide infection prevention and control strategic framework, and supports the practitioners working in the Grampians Region Healthcare Services.

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