It is Shark Week on the Discovery Channel. Every year, the Discovery Channel treats us with an up close and too personal view of sharks in their element, doing what sharks do. Of course, the divers filming the sharks in action take every precaution to protect themselves from the immanent danger. Tools include special diving gear, electric prods and the device which would be my personal choice if I ever went diving with sharks: the shark cage. This past weeks headlines in our Real Time Updates almost had me name this column, "Infections Week" as we had too many stories highlighting the failure of various institutions to prevent cross contamination amongst their patients. We in the infection control business are swimming with sharks: schools of potentially hazardous substance circle about us in these waters and it is our job to understand them, contain and reduce them - and protect our patients from them. Sometimes we fail. Like swimming with sharks, failure can be the difference between life and death. So what is our shark cage? It is the tools and procedures to insure we are doing the job right. Making sure that we not only clean a surface, but that we audit our performance to be sure we are truly getting those surfaces clean, for instance. Our cage of precautions keep us (and our patients) safe from the swarming sharks of infectious agents, keeping us just outside their reach.


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