Infection Control Definitions
In order to understand the methods of sterilization and the
principles of sterile technique, it is necessary to
understand the definition of the following terms:
ANTISEPTICS: Substances which combat sepsis and cause
bacteriostasis. They are used on skin and tissue and arrest
the growth of endogenous bacteria. They must not be strong
enough to destroy tissue and therefore are not as effective
against bacteria as are bactericides.
ASEPSIS: Freedom from infection - the absence of
microorganisms that cause disease.
ASEPTIC TECHNIQUE: The methods used to maintain asepsis.
BACTERIOSTASIS: The inhibition of the growth of bacteria.
However, the bacteria are undamaged to the extent that they
will grow if placed in a favorable medium, away from the
action of chemicals.
BLOOD: means human blood, human blood components, and
products made from human blood.
BLOOD BORNE PATHOGENS: means pathogenic microorganisms that
are present in human blood and can cause disease in humans.
These pathogens include, but are not limited to, hepatitis b
virus (HBV) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
CLINIC LABORATORY: means a workplace where diagnostic or
other procedures are performed on blood/other potentially
CONTAMINATED SHARPS: means any contaminated object that can
penetrate the skin including, but not limited to, needles,
scalpels, broken glass, broken capillary tubes, and exposed
ends of dental wires.
CONTAMINATED LAUNDRY: means laundry which has been soiled
with blood or other potentially infectious materials or may
CONTAMINATED: means the presence or the reasonably
anticipated presence of blood or other potentially infectious
materials on an item or surface.
DECONTAMINATION: means the use of physical or chemical means
to remove, inactivate, or destroy blood borne pathogens on a
surface or item to the point where they are no longer capable
of transmitting infectious particles and the surface of item
is rendered safe for handling, use or disposal.
DISINFECTION: The process of destroying all pathogenic
organisms except spore-bearing ones. Disinfectants are used
to eliminate exogenous bacteria on inanimate objects but not
ENGINEERING CONTROLS: means controls (e.g. sharps disposal
containers, self-sheathing needles) that isolate or remove
the blood borne pathogens hazard from the workplace.
EXPOSURE INCIDENT: means a specific eye, mouth, other mucous
membrane, non-intact skin, or parenteral contact with blood
or other potentially infectious material that results from
the performance of an employee's duties.
HAI: Health-care Associated Infections (HAIs) similiar to
Nosocomial. The Joint Commission terminology.
HAND WASHING FACILITIES: means a facility providing an
adequate supply of running potable water, soap and single use
towels or hot air drying machines.
HBV: means hepatitis B virus.
HIV: means human immunodeficiency virus.
LICENSED HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONAL: means a person who's
legally permitted scope of practice allows him or her to
independently perform the activities related to Hepatitis B
Vaccination and Post-exposure Evaluation and Follow up.
MICROORGANISMS: Living organisms, invisible to the naked eye.
OCCUPATIONAL EXPOSURE: means reasonably anticipated skin,
eye, mucous membrane or parenteral contact with blood or
other potentially infectious materials that may result from
the performance of an employee's duties.
OPPORTUNISTS: Bacteria that do not normally invade the
tissue. They are capable of causing infection or disease if
introduced mechanically into the body through injury. The
tetanus bacillus is an example.
OTHER POTENTIALLY INFECTIOUS MATERIALS: means (1) The
following human body fluids: semen, vaginal secretions,
cerebrospinal fluid, synovial fluid, pleural fluid,
pericardial fluid, peritoneal fluid, amniotic fluid, saliva
in dental procedures, any body fluid that is visibly
contaminated with blood, and all body fluids in situations
where it is difficult or impossible to differentiate between
body fluids; (2) Any unfixed tissue or other (other than
intact skin) from a human (living or dead); and (3)
HIV-containing cell or tissue cultures, organ cultures, and
HIV-or HBV-containing culture medium or other solutions; and
blood, organs, or other tissues from experimental animals
infected with HIV or HBV.
PARENTERAL: means piercing mucous membranes or the skin
barrier through such events as needle sticks, human bites,
cuts and abrasions.
PATHOGENIC MICROORGANISMS: Those microorganisms that cause
infectious disease. True pathogenic microorganisms can invade
healthy tissue through some power of their own; they can
injure tissue by a toxin which they produce.
PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT: means specialized clothing or
equipment worn by an employee for protection against a
hazard. General work clothes (e.g. uniforms, pants, shirts
or blouses) not intended to function as protection against a
hazard are not considered to be personal protective equipment.
PRODUCTION FACILITY: means a facility engaged in
industrial-scale, large-volume or high concentration
production of HIV or HBV.
REGULATED WASTE: means liquid or semi-liquid blood or other
potentially infectious material in a liquid or semi-liquid
state if compressed; items that are caked with dried blood or
other potentially infectious materials and are capable of
releasing these materials during handling; contaminated
sharps; and pathological and microbiological wastes
containing blood or other potentially infectious materials.
RESEARCH LABORATORY: means a laboratory producing or using
research laboratory scale amounts of HIV or HBV. Research
laboratories may produce high concentrations of HIV or HBV
but not in the volume found in production facilities.
SEPSIS: A general reaction, usually febrile; the results of
the action of bacteria or their products, or both.
SOURCE INDIVIDUAL: means any individual, living or dead,
whose blood or other potentially infectious materials may be
a source of occupational exposure to an employee; examples
include, but are not limited to, hospital and clinic
patients; clients in institutions for the developmentally
disabled; trauma victims; clients of drug and alcohol
treatment facilities; residents of hospices and nursing
homes; human remains; and individuals who donate or sell
blood or blood components.
SPORES: An inactive but viable form of bacteria. Certain
bacteria may assume this form under adverse conditions.
Spores are especially resistant to methods of destruction.
STERILE: Free from microorganisms.
STERILE FIELD: Area immediately around the patient that has
been prepared for a sterile procedure.
STERILE TECHNIQUE OR ASEPTIC TECHNIQUE: The method by which
contamination with microorganisms is prevented.
STERILITY: The state attained by sterilization.
STERILIZATION: The process by which all organisms, pathogenic
and nonpathogenic, including spores, are killed. This term is
used constantly in the operative technique. It is an absolute
term and should be used only for a process capable of
destroying all forms of bacterial life, including spores.
However, it often is used incorrectly and is applied when
only bacteriostasis is accomplished.
STERILIZE: means the use of a physical or chemical procedure
to destroy all microbial life including highly resistant
SURGICAL SCRUB: The process of removing as many
microorganisms as possible from hands and forearms by
mechanical washing and chemical antisepsis before
participating in a surgical procedure.
SURGICALLY CLEAN: Mechanically cleansed but not sterile.
TERMINAL STERILIZATION: The destruction of pathogens by
sterilization at the end of an operative procedure after
decontamination of the instruments.
TRANSIENT MICROFLORA: Organisms acquired by direct contact
and usually found only on exposed areas of the skin. They are
easily removed by mechanical cleansing.
UNIVERSAL PRECAUTIONS: means an approach to infection control
in which all human blood and certain human body fluids are
treated as if known to be infectious for HIV, HBV, and other
blood borne pathogens.
WORK PRACTICE CONTROLS: means controls that reduce the
likelihood of exposure by altering the manner in which a task
is performed (e.g. prohibiting recapping of needles by a two
Approved By Governing Board