Glossary of terms
Aerobe: An organism that grows in the presence of oxygen.
Aerobic Colony Count: The number/type of pathogens recovered from a surface.
Anaerobe: An organism that grows in the absence of oxygen.
Alcohol Hand Rub (AHR): A formulation of alcohol (e.g. ethanol, isopropanol, n-propanol) used to reduce the number of microorganisms on hands that are not visibly soiled.
Antibiotic-Resistant Organism (ARO): A microorganism that has developed resistance to the action of certain classes of antibiotics.
Antiseptic: An agent that can kill or inhibit microorganisms on living tissue and skin.
Bactericidal: Lethal activity against bacteria.
Bioburden: The numbers and types of microorganisms on a contaminated surface.
Biocide: Usually a broad-spectrum chemical or physical agent that inactivates microorganisms.
Cleaning: The physical removal of foreign material (e.g. dust, soil) and organic material (e.g. blood, secretions, excretions, microorganisms) with water, detergents and mechanical action.
Contamination: The presence of an infectious agent on hands and fomites.
Contact Time: The time necessary for a disinfectant to results in a significant reduction (usually 3 log reduction) in microorganisms.
Detergent: An emulsifying agent that contains surfactants and/or protease enzymes and whitening agents.
Disinfectant: A chemical applied on surfaces or medical equipment/devices which is capable of disinfection.
Disinfection: The process of removing/reducing the numbers of an infectious agent. Disinfection does not destroy bacterial spores.
Fomites: An inanimate object that may be contaminated with microorganisms and serve as a vehicle of transmission.
Healthcare-Associated Infection (HCAI): A term relating to an infection that is acquired during the delivery of healthcare (also known as nosocomial infection).
High-Touch Surfaces: High-touch surfaces are those that have frequent contact with hands. Examples include doorknobs, call bells, bedrails, light switches, wall areas around the toilet and edges of privacy curtains.
Infection: The entry and multiplication of an infectious agent in the tissues of the host Infection Prevention and Control: Evidence-based practices and procedures that, when applied consistently in healthcare settings, can prevent or reduce the risk of infection in clients/patients/residents, healthcare providers and visitors.
Low-Level Disinfection (LLD): Level of disinfection required when processing non-invasive medical equipment (i.e., non-critical equipment) and some environmental surfaces. Equipment and surfaces must be thoroughly cleaned prior to low-level disinfection.
Low-Touch Surfaces: Surfaces that have minimal contact with hands. Examples include walls, ceilings, mirrors and window sills.
Microbicide: A substance that destroys infectious agents, including, bacteria, viruses and fungi.
Neutralisation: The ability to stop the activity of a microbicide at a defined exposure time.
Reservoir: Any person, animal, substance or environmental surface in or on which an infectious agent survives or multiplies, posing a risk for infection.
Sporicidal: Lethal activity against spores Sporistatic: Inhibition of spore germination.
ACC – Aerobic colony count.
AHR – Alcohol Hand Rub.
ATP – Adenosine Triphosphate.
CDC – Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
CDI – Clostridium difficile Infection.
HCAI – Healthcare-Associated Infections.
HCW – Healthcare Workers.
KPC – Klebsiella pneumonia carbapenemase.
LLD – Low-Level Disinfection.
MRSA – Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus.
MSDS – Material Safety Data Sheet.
NAO – National Audit Office.
PPM – Parts Per Million.
QAC – Quaternary Ammonium Compound.
RCN – Royal College of Nursing.
UVI – Ultraviolet Irradiation.
VHP – Vapourised Hydrogen Peroxide.
VOC – Volatile Organic Compounds.
VRE – Vancomycin-Resistant Enterococci.