Nurses can Improve Infection Control
Infection control is a primary concern for nurses in all hospital environments. Healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) occur in approximately 4 to 10 percent of hospitalized patients and account for more than 1,700,000 infections per year in the USA alone. In the ICU and Anesthesia, this concern is even greater considering the pressure on ICU nurses and CRNA’s as well as the critical condition of the patients.
Fortunately, HAIs are decreasing because of stronger efforts from nursing staff to improve infection control. There are also less infections as a result of innovative techniques and medical devices that prevent infections from occurring in situations where they were previously more common. Below are four ways nurses can continue to improve infection control in hospitals.
1. Using Safe Injection Techniques
Injections present a high risk for infection because any kind of bacteria or virus from the needle or the vascular access area can end up inside the patient’s body. That is why hand hygiene, sterile equipment and a clean work area are incredibly important for safe injections.
Below are five safe injection recommendations from the CDC:
- Use aseptic technique to avoid contamination of sterile injection equipment
- Do not administer medications from a syringe to multiple patients, even if the needle or cannula on the syringe is changed
- Use fluid infusion and administration sets (i.e., intravenous bags, tubing and connectors) for one patient only and dispose appropriately after use
- Use single-dose vials for parenteral medications whenever possible
- Do not administer medications from single-dose vials or ampules to multiple patients or combine leftover contents for later use
In addition to protecting patients from infection, safe injection techniques and proper disposal of medical supplies also keeps the medical staff safe.
2. Avoiding Batch Preparation of Medications
The use of pre-filled syringes is proven to be more effective at infection control than batch preparation of medications. Plus, this approach also preserves hospital resources.
“Batch preparations of medications is time-consuming, increases risks of cross-contamination, labelling and medication errors, and wastes unused items. Advantages of prefilled syringes from hospital pharmacies or FDA approved manufacturers include no preparation required, immediate availability, ensured sterility and content, accurate labelling and more time for patient care. Prefilled syringes have been shown to reduce drug waste and may reduce costs for some commonly used anesthetic drugs.” –Elliott S. Greene, M.D. from the December 2016 issue of ASA Monitor.
The Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology also recommends preparing medications as close as possible to their time of administration, whenever medication preparation is necessary. For example, nurses should prepare IV bags on the spot, as opposed to preparing these hours in advance and storing them until they are needed.
3. Properly Handling Intraoperative Vascular Devices
Approximately 7 percent of patients are affected by HAIs while undergoing surgery. Although HAIs are infrequent among surgery patients, one of the biggest risk factors is intraoperative vascular device handling.
According to the CDC, hand hygiene is the number one prevention strategy for HAIs when handling intraoperative vascular devices – and still one of the leading problems. A newer solution for intensive care and other hospital departments is a hub disinfection system, such as HubScrub, which is shown to reduce vascular device contamination and infection rates.
4. Using Closed Lumen Stopcocks
Another avoidable way hospitals increase the risk of infection is the use of open lumen devices during medical care.
In scenarios where aseptic techniques are avoided, pathogenic multi-drug-resistant bacteria can contaminate anesthesia work areas and open lumen stopcocks.
“The CDC states that closed catheter access systems (needleless valve ports) are associated with fewer catheter-related bloodstream infections than open systems (e.g., traditional stopcocks) and should be used preferentially.” –Elliott S. Greene, M.D. from the December 2016 issue of ASA Monitor.
Elcam Safety created the closed lumen Marvelous stopcock to improve infection control and provide nurses in anesthesia and the ICU with a more effective tool. We even put the Marvelous stopcock to the test in clinical studies and have shown how the Marvelous stopcock can help reduce the risk of bacteria colonization in the operating room and intensive care unit.
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