The Nurse’s Role In Preventing Nosocomial Infections
The hospital is known as the place where patients seek refuge in times of sickness. Patients seek the help of healthcare professionals in the hopes of recovering from diseases and health conditions. However, what one fails to realize is that the place that they consider as “safe” is actually not that safe. And despite their best intentions in trying to help save lives, healthcare professionals, including nurses, can sometimes act as vectors of disease, disseminating new infections among unsuspecting clients. How exactly can you prevent hospital-acquired infections? What is the nurse’s role in preventing such? Below are some of the roles nurses must observe in order to prevent nosocomial infections:
Practice and Promote Hand hygiene
We always tell our patients that the best way to prevent the spread of diseases is through proper handwashing. Well, that’s actually right since hand hygiene is considered as the most effective way to prevent transmission of infection. As healthcare providers caring from one patient to another, it is very important for us to observe proper hand hygiene right before each patient contact, after each patient contact, after contact with environmental surfaces and equipment/medical devices, and before and after donning gloves. Studies show that that nearly everything in the healthcare setting-from surfaces, to healthcare workers’ hands, to medical equipment-can serve as a reservoir and vector for opportunistic pathogenic organisms. Some bacteria and viruses can live on inanimate objects and surfaces for weeks or even months.
It is also important to keep fingernails one-fourth of an inch or less in length and to avoid the use of artificial nails, nail extenders, and nail decorations.
Observing the use of aseptic technique
Aseptic technique is defined as a set of specific practices and procedures performed under carefully controlled conditions, with the goal of minimizing contamination by pathogens. It protects the patient from infection, prevents the spread of pathogens and is employed to maximize and maintain asepsis, which is the absence of pathogenic organisms-in the clinical setting.
Nurses can reduce the potential for infection when performing tasks and procedures (i.e., starting a peripheral I.V. line or scrubbing the hub of an I.V. connector before injection) through observing hand hygiene before initiating any task or procedure and following careful technique. Nurses should also avoid shortcuts since it can minimize the potential for disease transmission.
Clean and disinfect
Sharing is not uncommon in the clinical area especially when it comes to medical devices used on more than one patient. As nurses, you should clean and disinfect the device in between patient use.
Use standard precautions
Standard precautions are considered as the most basic level of infection control and prevention that should be used at all times when providing patient care at any level and applies to blood and all bodily fluids, secretions, and excretions (except sweat) whether or not they contain visible blood. In an environment surrounded by various diseases and pathogens, nurses must protect themselves through the use of personal protective equipment (PPE), (i.e., fluid-resistant cover gowns, disposable gloves, masks, and eye protection).
The best way to avoid transmission of infection to other patients and staff includes the combination of speedy and proper removal of PPE followed by performance of hand hygiene.
It is one of the nurse’s responsibilities to educate patients and their family. It’s the nurse who usually explains to the patient why strategies and treatments are done. Furthermore, it is the nurse’s job to strengthen teaching and authorize patients and their families to expect and remind healthcare workers to perform hand hygiene at the appropriate times.