The Royal Marsden Healthcare experts

A day in the life: Pat Cattini, Lead Nurse/Deputy Director, Infection Prevention and Control

Pat Cattini talks us through her busy role in Infection Prevention and Control

Infection prevention is an ever-changing and challenging speciality. No two days are the same; one phone call can change your plans immediately. My role involves managing the risk of infection in the hospital. My team constantly assesses situations to keep patients, staff and visitors safe.

In the morning, I check emails and new lab results. If we hear about a patient with an infection, we’ll make notes on their health record, inform the ward and advise what’s needed. Sometimes, we’ll visit the ward right away to manage potential risk. We always investigate unusual infections to learn what happened and prevent it occurring again.

Risk management

We need to balance the risk of infection against that of delays or cancellations, which may harm the patient. For example, if there is a case of gastroenteritis on a ward, we’ll try to contain the infection in one area so that we can still look after other patients. This can require careful management.

A big challenge for us is identifying whether symptoms are due to infection or a side effect of treatment. This is why my team maintains a presence in clinical areas, and we encourage staff to contact us to discuss individual cases.

Hand hygiene is critical for preventing the spread of infections. Our SureWash machine helps us to train nurses to wash their hands. It’s like a video game: you position your hands under the camera and practise the correct hand hygiene techniques. It’s fun and interactive, and we plan to use it as part of mandatory training in the future.

Another challenge is antimicrobial resistance. At The Royal Marsden, we rely on antimicrobials for cancer care. So to manage the risk, we have twice-weekly ward rounds in which pharmacists, the microbiologist and someone from my team assess whether antibiotics are being used effectively.

On-site advice

I am also involved in any building works, such as the refurbishment of Bud Flanagan East Ward. This includes planning room layouts and the arrangement of sinks, dust control, water sampling and advising on finishes that can be cleaned easily. We work with the Estates Department and cleaners to ensure that the area is thoroughly cleaned before being occupied.

At this time of year, I work closely with the occupational health and communications teams on the Trust’s annual flu campaign. Flu can be a deadly disease – especially in vulnerable patients – so we encourage staff to have the vaccine every winter, as it helps protect them from infection, too.

Away from the hospital, I am Vice-President of the Infection Prevention Society (IPS) and will become President next year, which is daunting but exciting. This year, I was also lucky enough to win the British Journal of Nursing Infection Prevention’s Nurse of the Year award.

Flu can be deadly, so we encourage staff to have the vaccine to protect them and our patients

Pat Cattini