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This glossary was created with input from members of PICNet, PHAC Infection Control Guidelines and the BC Ministry of Health.

Acute Care Facility – A hospital where lengths of stay average < 30 days, and where a variety of services are provided, including surgery and intensive care.

Additional Precautions – Interventions implemented for certain pathogens or clinical presentations in addition to routine infection control practices, to reduce the risk of transmission of microorganisms from patient to patient, patient to HCP, and HCP to patient.

Airborne Transmission – Occurs by dissemination of either airborne droplet nuclei (small-particle residue of evaporated droplets containing microorganisms that remain suspended in the air for long periods of time) or dust particles containing the infectious agent. Microorganisms carried in this manner can be dispersed widely by air currents and may become inhaled by a susceptible host in the same room or over a longer distance from the source patient, depending on environmental factors.

Antibiotic – A chemical substance that is produced by microorganisms and has the ability to kill or inhibit the growth of other microorganisms.

Antimicrobial Agent – A product that kills or suppresses the growth of microorganisms.

Antimicrobial Resistant Organism – A microorganism that has developed resistance to the action of several antimicrobial agents and that is of special clinical or epidemiologic significance. Organisms included in this group are MRSA, VRE, penicillin-resistant pneumococcus, certain Gram negative bacilli resistant to penicillin and cephalosporin, and multi-drug resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Other microorganisms may be added to this list if antibiotic resistance is judged to be significant in a specific health care facility or patient population, at the discretion of the infection control program or local, regional or national authorities.

Antiseptics – A product with antimicrobial activity that is designed for use on skin or other superficial tissues; removes both transient and resident flora. The term is used for preparations applied to living tissue

Assisted Living – Assisted Living provides housing, with appropriate support and health services, that enables residents to maintain an optimal level of personal independence. Residents live independently in their own lockable personal space and make choices about their daily activities based on personal preference and lifestyle. Staff provides assistance only when requested. The Office of the Assisted Living Registrar has jurisdiction over all assisted living residences in BC regardless of their form of funding or ownership. Operators must meet health and safety standards to become registered. The authority of the Registrar is specified in the Community Care and Assisted Living Act.

Attack rate – The proportion of the population at risk who ever experience a specific event. This is useful only when the risk is not time-dependent (e.g., surgical site infections; transfusion-related infections).

Autogenous Infections – An infection that results from the flora of the individual, whether or not the organism was part of the patient’s flora prior to admission.

Barrier Techniques – Use of single rooms, gloves, masks, or gowns in health care settings to prevent transmission of microorganisms.

Benchmark – A benchmark is a value (score) for comparing the results of one’s performance to the result of other services, interventions, programs, organizations, or processes that are recognized as excellent and as a way of making improvements.

Best Practice – Best practices are approaches that have been shown to produce superior results, selected from a systematic process, and judged as “exemplary, good, or successfully demonstrated”. Best practices are usually set out in a manner which describes and documents effective clinical intervention or administrative approach. Best practices can be adapted to fit a particular organization. Best practices are desirable but not mandatory. If a best practice was intended to be a mandatory requirement, it would need to be articulated as a policy statement.

Bias – Systematic deviation of results or interferences from the truth. Processes leading to such deviation. An error in the conception and design of a study-or in the collection, analysis, interpretation, reporting, publication or review of the data-leading to results or conclusions that are systematically (as opposed to randomly) different from the truth.

Biofilm – The process of irreversible adhesion initiated by the binding of bacteria to the surface by means of exopolysaccharide material (glycocalyx). The development of adherent micro-colonies leads eventually to the production of a continuous biofilm on the colonized surface. Bacteria within biofilms tend to be more resistant to antibiotics and biocides than cells in batchtype culture.

Biomedical Waste – Waste that is generated by human or animal health care facilities, medical or veterinary settings, health care teaching establishments, laboratories, and facilities involved in the production of vaccines.

Body Mass Index – Anthropometric measure defined as weight in kilograms divided by the square of height in meters. This measure correlates closely with body density and skin fold thickness.

Canadian Nosocomial Infection Surveillance Program – CNISP is a national surveillance program that provides statistics and data on nosocomial infections in Canada for use in the development and evaluation of guidelines.

Carrier – A person or animal that harbors a specific infectious agent in the absence of discernable clinical disease and serves as a potential source of infection. The carrier state may occur in an individual with an infection that is inapparent throughout it’s course (known as health or asymptomatic carrier) or during the incubation period, convalescence or post-convalescence of an individual with a clinically recognizable disease (known as incubatory carrier or convalescent carrier). The carrier state may be of short or long term duration.

Case – In epidemiology, a person in the population or study group identified as having the particular disease, health disorder or condition under investigation. A variety of criteria may be used to identify cases: e.g. diagnosis, registries and notifications, abstracts of clinical records, reporting of defects such as a dental record. The epidemiologic definition of a case is not necessarily the same as the ordinary clinical definition.

Case Definition – A set of diagnostic criteria that must be fulfilled in order to identify a person as a case of a particular disease. Case definition can be based on clinical, laboratory or combined clinical and laboratory criteria or a scoring system with points for each criterion that matches the features of the disease. If the diagnosis is based on a scoring system e.g. Multiple Sclerosis, it is important to abide by the system for surveillance purposes and when deciding whether to include or exclude cases in an epidemiologic study.

Cleaning – The physical removal of foreign material e.g. dusts, soil, organic material such as blood, secretions, excretions and microorganisms using mechanical and/or chemical means. Cleaning physically removes rather than kills microorganisms.

Cluster – A grouping of cases of a disease within a specific time frame and geographic location suggesting a possible association between the cases with respect to transmission.

Cohort – Two or more patients colonized or infected with the same organism that are separated physically, in a separate room or ward, from other patients who are not colonized or infected with that organism.

Cohort Staffing – The practice of assigning specified personnel to care only for patients/residents known to be colonized or infected with the same organism. Such personnel would not participate in the care of patients/residents who are not colonized or infected with that organism.

Colonization – The presence and multiplication in or on the body of microorganism(s) without any symptoms of infection or detected immune reaction. Colonization is often a natural process in the development of natural “normal flora”.

Communicable – Capable of being transmitted from one person to another; synonymous with “infectious” and “contagious”.

Communicable disease – An illness due to a specific infectious agent or its toxic products that arises through transmission of that agent or its products from an infected person, animal, or reservoir to a susceptible host, either directly or indirectly through an intermediate plant of animal host, vector or the inanimate environment.

Communicable period – The time during which an infectious agent may be transferred directly or indirectly from an infected person to another person, from an infected animal to humans or from an infected person to an animal, including arthropods.

Community – A group of individuals organized into a unit, or manifesting some unifying trait or common interest; loosely, the locality or catchment area population for which a service is provided, or more broadly, the state, nation or body politic.

Confounder, Confounding variable – A variable that can be used to decrease confounding Bias when properly adjusted for. The identification of confounders requires expert or substantive knowledge about causal network of which exposure and outcome are part (e.g. pathophysiological and clinical knowledge). Attempts to select confounders solely based on observed statistical associations may lead to bias.

Contact Transmission – The transmission of infectious agents by direct contact or indirect contact.Direct contact occurs when the transfer of microorganisms results from direct physical contact between an infected or colonized individual and a susceptible host (body surface to body surface). Indirect contact involves the passive transfer of microorganisms to a susceptible host via an intermediate object such as contaminated instruments or other inanimate objects in the patient’s immediate environment.

Contact Transmission Precautions – Work practices to reduce the risk of transmitting infectious agents by direct or indirect contact with an infectious person.

Contagious – Capable of being transmitted from one person to another; synonymous with “infectious” and “communicable”.

Contamination – The presence of microorganisms on inanimate objects, e.g. clothing and surgical instruments, or microorganisms on body surfaces such as hands, or in substances e.g. water and food.

Cost/Benefit Analysis – A numerical evaluation of the actual or proposed value of specific process, including calculating the cost of the program and comparing that to the financial outcomes in the form of savings which can be expected from the program.

Critical items – Instruments and devices that enter sterile tissues, including the vascular system. Critical items present a high risk of infection if the item is contaminated with any microorganisms, including bacterial spores. Reprocessing critical items involves meticulous cleaning followed by sterilization.

Cross-infection – Infection of one person with pathogenic organisms from another and vice versa. Not the same as Nosocomial infection, which occurs in a health care setting; cross-infection can occur anywhere e.g. military barracks, a school, a workplace.

Cumulative incidence – Proportion of a group (cohort) of people at risk who experience the onset of a health-related event during a specified time interval; this interval is generally the same for all members of the group, but as in lifetime incidence, it, may vary from person to person without reference to age.

Decontamination – The removal of disease-producing microorganisms to leave an item safe for further handling.

Denominator – The lower portion of a fraction, used to calculate a rate or ratio. The population (or population experience, as in person-years, passenger miles, etc.) at risk in the calculation of a rate or a ratio. Valid information on denominators is essential in clinical and epidemiological research and also in many public health activities.

Disease – Clinical expression of infection; signs and/or symptoms are produced.

Disease – A disorder that can be assigned to a diagnostic category; it usually has a distinct clinical course and usually a distinct etiology.

Disinfection – The inactivation of disease-producing microorganisms. Disinfection does not destroy bacterial spores. Disinfection usually involves chemicals, heat or ultraviolet light.

Disorder – A disturbance or departure from normal health function.

Droplet Nuclei – A type of particle implicated in the spread of airborne infection. Droplet nuclei are tiny particles (1-10µm diameter) that represent the dried residue of droplets. They may be formed by 1) evaporation of droplets coughed or sneezed into the air or 2) aerosolization of infective materials.

Droplet Transmission – Transmission occurs from droplets that are equal to or over five microns in diameter, generated from the respiratory tract of the source patient during coughing or sneezing or some procedures such as suctioning or bronchoscopy. These droplets are propelled a short distance,

Droplet Transmission Precautions – Measures to reduce the risk of droplet transmission of infectious agents.

Drug Identification number (DIN) – In Canada, disinfectants are regulated under the Food and Drugs Act and Regulations. Disinfectants must have a drug identification number (DIN) from Health Canada prior to marketing. This ensures that labeling and supportive data have been provided and that it has been established by the Therapeutic Drugs Dictorate that the product is effective and safe for its intended use.

Emergency responders – Ambulance paramedics, police, firefighters.

Empirical – Based directly on experience rather than on reasoning alone.

Enabling factors – Those that facilitate the manifestation of the disease, disability, ill-health, or the use of services or conversely those that facilitate recovery from illness, maintenance or enhancement of health status, or more appropriate use of health services. These factors may be necessary but are rarely sufficient to cause the phenomenon under study.

Environmental Health Officer(EHO) (Public Health Inspectors) – Enforces the BC Public Health Act and the BC Community Care and Assisted Living Facility Act in regard to disease control and protection of the public. Works with the MHO in conjunction with the facility ICP management and staff to ensure that appropriate outbreak mitigation measures will be put into place in the event of an outbreak. Acts as a consultant and provides support/resources prior to and during an outbreak; Communicates/liaises promptly with Infection Control and/or the MHO when outbreaks are suspected and/or have been declared. Provides expertise in determining the source and means of spread of the agent, especially where food, or waterborne spread may be involved.

Epidemic Disease – The constant presence of a disease or infectious agent within a given geographic area of population group; may also refer to the usual prevalence of a given disease within such area or group.

Epidemiology – The study of the occurrence and distribution of health related states or events in specified populations, including the study of the determinants influencing such states, and the application of this knowledge to control the health problems.

Evidence – Information such as analyzed data, published research findings, results of evaluations, prior experience, expert opinions, any or all of which may be used to reach conclusions on which decisions are based.

Evidence-based Medicine – The consistent use of current best evidence derived from published clinical and epidemiologic research in management of patients, with attention to the balance of risks and benefits of diagnostic tests and alternative treatment regiments, taking account of each patient’s unique circumstances, including baseline risk, comorbid conditions and personal preferences.

Evidence-based Public Health – Application of the best available evidence in setting public health policies and practices. The evidence may be derived from epidemiologic, demographic, sociologic, economic, and many other relevant sources, preferably published, peer-reviewed, and critically appraised articles and reports. Implementation of public health policies, programs and practices requires good evidence on feasibility, efficacy, effectiveness, efficiency, cost, acceptability to the target population, and consideration of ethical and political implications. Valid evidence on all these criteria can be obtained from many sources, including demographic and vital statistics data, epidemiologic studies, and focus groups.

Exogenous Infection – An infection that results from organisms acquired from a source other than the individual.

Exposure – The condition of being subjected to a microorganism or an infectious disease in a manner that enables transmission to occur.

Field Epidemiology – The practice of epidemiology in the field. Field epidemiology is how epidemics and outbreaks are investigated. Its methods are designed to answer specific epidemiologic questions in order to plan, implement and/or evaluate public health interventions.

Fit for Work – Terminology used in occupational health to communicate a worker’s ability to remain at or return to work. The phrase is one of three qualifiers: fit for work, unfit for work, fit with restrictions. It allows the occupational health nurse to maintain confidentiality about a HCP’s diagnosis, symptoms, immune status, etc.

Fit with Restrictions – Allows for reassignment of duties or reintegration into the workplace in a manner that will not pose an infection risk to the HCP or to the individuals in the workplace.

Fomites – Those objects in the inanimate environment that may become contaminated with microorganisms and serve as a vehicle of transmission.

Germicide – An agent that destroys microorganisms, especially pathogenic organisms.

Gold Standard – (jargon) a method, procedure, or measurement that is widely accepted as being the best available. Often used to compare new methods.

Guideline – A guideline is a suggestion or set of suggestions that guides action. The purpose of a guideline is to provide information intended to assist health authorities to achieve a desired outcome. Guidelines may, for example, be suggestions on how to implement or comply with policy. Whereas health authorities must comply with Ministry policy, they are not required to comply with guidelines.

Hand Hygiene – A process for the removal of soil and transient microorganisms from the hands. Hand hygiene may be accomplished using soap and running water or by the use of alcohol-based hand rubs. Optimal strength of alcohol-based hand rubs should be 60% to 90% alcohol.

Health Authorities (HA) – The six health authorities (Vancouver Coastal, Interior, Fraser, North, Vancouver Island and the Provincial Health Services Authority) that are responsible for the health services provided within their respective areas.

Health Care – services provided to individuals or communities by agents of the health services or professions to promote, maintain, monitor or restore health. Health care is not limited to medical care, which implies therapeutic action by or under the supervision of a physician. The term is sometimes extended to include self care.

Health Care Provider (HCP): Health Care Provider – Individual providing or supporting health care services that will bring them into contact with patients/clients/ residents. This includes, but is not limited to: emergency service providers, physicians, dentists, chiropractors, nurses, podiatrists, respiratory therapists and other allied health professionals, students, support services (e.g. housekeeping, dietary, maintenance, hairdressers), and volunteers.

Health Care Workplace (HCW) – The hospital, building, agency, or area, e.g. ambulance, where health care is provided.

Health Services – Services that are performed by health professionals or by others under their direction for the purpose of promoting, maintaining, or restoring health. In addition to personal health care, health services include measures for health protection, health promotion and disease prevention.

Heavy Microbial Soiling – The presence of infection or high levels of contamination with organic material e.g. infected wounds, feces.

Herd Immunity – The immunity of a group or community. The resistance of a group to invasions and spread of an infectious agent. Based on the resistance to infection of a high proportion of individual members of the group.

High Level Disinfection – Level of disinfection required when processing semicritical items. High level disinfection processes destroy vegetative bacteria, mycobacterium, fungi and enveloped (lipid) and nonenveloped (non lipid) viruses, but not necessarily bacterial spores.

Home and Community Care – Home care is defined as a wide-range of medical, nursing, rehabilitation, hospice, and social services delivered to patients in their place of residence (e.g., private residence, senior living center, assisted living facility). Home health-care services include, care provided by home health aides and skilled nurses, respiratory therapists, dieticians, physicians, chaplains, and volunteers; provision of durable medical equipment; home infusion therapy; and physical, speech and occupational therapy.

Hospital Associated Infections – Also referred to as nosocomial infections, this refers to an infection originating in a medical facility, e.g. occurring in a patient, in a hospital or other health care facility, in whom infection was not present or incubating at the time of admission. Includes infections acquired in the hospital but appearing after discharge; it also includes such infections among staff.

Hospital-grade Disinfectant – A disinfectant that has a drug identification number (DIN) from Health Canada indicating its approval for use in Canadian hospitals.

Immunocompromised – Increased susceptibility to infection e.g. HIV/AIDS, chemotherapy or blood malignancy.

Incidence density – The average person-time incidence rate.

Incidence rate – The rate at which new events occur in a population.

Incubation Period – The time interval between invasion by an infectious agent and appearance of the first sign or symptom of the disease.

Infection – An invasion of the body by microorganism(s) that multiply and cause an interaction between the host and the organism. The interaction may only be a detectable immune response such as a TB skin test conversion (subclinical infection) or produce signs and symptoms resulting from the altered physiology and/or associated cell damage (clinical disease).

Infection Control Professional (ICP) – Trained individual responsible for a health care setting’s infection prevention and control activities.

Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) – Measures practiced by health care personnel in health care facilities to decrease transmission and acquisition of infectious agents (e.g. proper hand hygiene, scrupulous work practices, use of personal protective equipment (PPE) [masks or respirators, gloves, gowns, and eye protection]; infection control measures are based on how an infectious agent is transmitted and include standard, contact, droplet, and airborne precautions.

Infectious – Caused by infection or capable of being transmitted.

Infectious Diseases – Also referred to as communicable disease, this refers to an illness due to a specific infectious agent or its toxic products that arises through transmission of that agent or its products from an infected person, animal, or reservoir to a susceptible host, either directly or indirectly through an intermediate plant or animal host, vector, or the inanimate environment.

Infectious Waste – That portion of biomedical waste that is capable of producing infectious disease.

Information Technology (IT) – The common term for the entire spectrum of technologies for information processing, including software, hardware, communications technologies and related services.

Intermediate Level Disinfection – Level of disinfection required for some semicritical items. Intermediate level disinfectants kill vegetative bacteria, most viruses, and most fungi, but not resistant bacterial spores.

Isolation – The physical separation of infected individuals from those uninfected for the period of communicability of a particular disease.

Legislation – Legislation is a general term which refers to statutes, and regulations passed by government. Legislation creates legal obligations and has the force of law. Statutes reflect policy decisions made by government and are passed by the Legislature; regulations are subordinate legislation and are approved by Cabinet. Whereas a statute sets out the legal framework with respect to a subject matter, a regulation provides specific detail as to how it is applied. Health authority compliance with legislation is mandatory.

Low Level Disinfection – Level of disinfection required when processing noncritical items or some environmental surfaces. Low level disinfectants kill most vegetative bacteria and some fungi as well as enveloped (lipid) viruses e.g. hepatitis B, C, Hantavirus, and HIV. Low level disinfectants do not kill mycobacteria or bacterial spores. Low level disinfectants-detergents are used to clean environmental surfaces.

Medical Health Officer (MHO) – A medical practitioner with training, knowledge, skills and experience in community medicine who is designated to this position by the Lieutenant Governor of BC under the Public Health Act. The MHO provides advice and direction on public health issues including health promotion and health protection and their related practices, bylaws and policies. The MHO reports to the public those matters which are deemed to be in the public interest.

Medical Services Commission (MSC) – Facilitates reasonable access, throughout British Columbia, to quality medical care, health care and diagnostic facility services for residents of British Columbia under the Medical Services Plan (MSP). It’s responsible for managing the provision and payment of medical services through the MSP on behalf of the Government of British Columbia. The MSC is accountable to Government through the Minister of Health Services.

Medical Services Plan (MSP) – A Ministry of Health Services program offering universal health care coverage for BC residents.

Noncritical Items – Those that either touch only intact skin, but not mucous membranes or do not directly touch the patient.

Nosocomial Infection – An infection originating in a medical facility e.g. occurring in a patient in a hospital or other health are facility in whom the infection was not present or incubating at the time of admission. Includes infections acquired in the hospital but appearing after discharge; also includes such infections among staff.

Notifiable Diseases – Please refer to the definition for reportable diseases.

Numerator – The upper portion of a faction, used to calculate a rate or a ratio.

Occupational health – The specialized practice of medicine, public health and ancillary health professions in an occupational setting. Its aims are to promote health as well as to prevent occupationally related diseases and injuries and the impairments arising there from, and when work related illness or injury occurs to treat these conditions.

Outbreak – An excess over the expected incidence of disease within a geographic area during a specified time period, synonymous with epidemic.

Performance Measure or Performance Indicator – A performance measure (or indicator) is a tool, screen, or flag that is used to guide, monitor, and improve the quality of a system/ service.

Performance Standard – A performance standard is an established, measurable, achievable, and understandable statement that describes a required level of performance against which actual performance can be compared. While a policy tells health authorities what to do, a standard sets the expected level of performance. Standards allow the Ministry/ health authority to measure, monitor and compare actual performance against the required level of performance. Health authority compliance with Ministry standards is mandatory.

Plain Soap – Detergent-based cleansers in any form (bar, liquid, or powder) used for the primary purpose of physical removal of soil and contaminating microorganisms.

Policy – A policy is a required course of action adopted to achieve a desired outcome. A policy statement describes what must and must not be done, but in general, does not describe how the work is done. It states expectations, assigns responsibility, sets limits, and serves as the basis for consistent decision-making. A policy statement is a directive required by legislation or made under authority of the funding agreements with health authorities, or is statements that identify and interpret the direction of government. Health authority compliance with Ministry policy is mandatory.

Precautions – Interventions to reduce the risk of transmission of microorganisms from patient to patient, patient to health care provider, and health care provider to patient.

Precipitating factors – Those associated with the definitive onset of a disease, illness, accident , behavioral response or course of action. Usually one factor is more important or more obviously recognizable than others if several are involved and one may often be regarded as “necessary”.

Predisposing factors – Those that prepare, sensitize, condition or otherwise create a situation such as a level of immunity or state of susceptibility, so that the host tends to react in a specific fashion to a disease agent, personal interaction, environmental stimulus or specific incentive. These factors may be necessary but are rarely sufficient to cause the phenomenon under study.

Public Health – One of the efforts organized by society to protect, promote, and restore the people’s health. It is the combination of sciences, skills, and beliefs that is directed to the maintenance and improvement of the health of all the people through collective or social actions. The programs, services, and institutions involved emphasize the prevention of disease and the health needs of the population as a whole. Public health activities change with changing technology and social values, but the goals remain the same: to reduce the amount of disease, premature death, and disease-produced discomfort and disability in the population.

Public Health Inspector – Public Health Inspector – means an officer appointed under this Act who is the holder of a Certificate in Public Health Inspection (Canada) or an equivalent certificate issued by a competent authority and acceptable to the Board of Certification of Public Health Inspectors of the Canadian Institute of Public Health Inspectors.

Public Health Nurse – Public Health nurses care for the physical and mental health needs of the community as a whole. They may work with families in the home, with community groups, in schools, in government agencies and at workplaces.

Reinforcing factors – Those tending to perpetuate or aggravate the presence of a disease, disability, impairment, attitude, pattern of behaviour or course of action. They may tend to be repetitive, recurrent or persistent and may or may not necessarily be the same or similar as those categorized as predisposing, enabling or precipitating.

Relative Risk – The ratio of the risk of an event among the exposed to the risk among the unexposed: this usage is synonymous with “risk ratio”.

Reportable Diseases – A disease that, by statutory requirements, must be reported to the public health authority in the pertinent jurisdiction when the diagnosis is made. A disease, also known as a notifiable disease, deemed of sufficient importance to the public health to require that its occurrence be reported to health authorities.

Residential Care Facility – Residential care facilities provide 24-hour professional nursing care and supervision in a protective, supportive environment for people who have complex care needs and can no longer be cared for in their own homes.

Routine Practices – Infection control practices used in the care of all patients to reduce the risk of transmission of microorganisms from patient to patient, patient to HCP, and HCP to patient.

Safer Engineered Devices – A device designed to reduce the incidence of needlestick injuries and potential exposure of HCPs to bloodborne pathogens. For instance, an “active” safety device, e.g. syringe with needle guard, requires that the operator actively engage the safety feature to ensure its proper function whereas a “passive” safety device, e.g. recessed or protected needle, is one that requires no action on the part of a HCP to ensure protection and is usually in effect throughout the use of the device.

Sanitation – A process that reduces microorganisms on an inanimate object to a safe level, e.g. dishes and eating utensils are sanitized.

Semicritical Items – Devices that come in contact with nonintact skin or mucous membranes but ordinarily do not penetrate them. Reprocessing semicritical items involves meticulous cleaning followed preferably by high-level disinfection (level of disinfection required is dependent on the item).

Sharps – Needles, syringes, blades, laboratory glass or other objects capable of causing punctures or cuts.

Sharps Injury – Injuries caused by percutaneous injuries or cuts.

Source – The person, animal, objects, or substance from which an infectious agent passes to a host.

Sterilization – The destruction of all forms of microbial life including bacteria, viruses, spores, and fungi. Items must be cleaned thoroughly before effective sterilization can take place.

Surveillance – Systematic, ongoing collection, collation, and analysis of health-related information that is communicated in a timely manner to all who need to know which health problems require action. Surveillance is a central feature of epidemiological practice, where it is used to control disease. Information that is used for surveillance comes from many sources, including reported cases of communicable diseases, hospital admissions, laboratory reports, cancer registries, population surveys, reports of absence from school or work, and reported causes of death.

Susceptible – An individual not possessing sufficient resistance against a particular pathogenic agent to prevent contracting infection or disease when exposed to the agent; synonymous with non-immune.

Symptomatic – Presenting symptoms compatible with an infectious process before a definitive diagnosis is made. See also infection

Syndrome – A group of symptoms and signs that tend to appear together and collectively characterize a disorder.

Target – A target is the value (score) of a performance measure indicating an expected level of achievement within a specified time frame against which performance can be assessed. The “longer term” target value may be the performance standard, i.e. desired level of performance.