Infection control is a critical aspect of nursing practice, and nurses have a pivotal role in preventing the spread of infections in healthcare settings.
Here are some specific infection control practices and guidelines that nurses should follow:
Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after patient contact, after touching contaminated surfaces, and before and after performing any invasive procedures. Use alcohol-based hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol when soap and water are not readily available.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE):
Use appropriate PPE, including gloves, masks, gowns, and eye protection, as needed, when caring for patients with known or suspected infections. Follow proper donning and doffing procedures to prevent contamination.
Treat all patients as if they may have an infection. Use PPE, practice hand hygiene, and dispose of contaminated materials properly for all patient interactions. Adhere to respiratory hygiene and cough etiquette.
Follow specific isolation precautions based on the type of infection a patient has (e.g., contact precautions for MRSA, airborne precautions for tuberculosis). Educate patients and visitors on isolation measures and provide clear signage outside isolation rooms.
Ensure that patient care areas are clean and disinfected regularly. Pay attention to high-touch surfaces and equipment. Follow facility protocols for cleaning and disinfection.
Use a new needle and syringe for each injection. Never recap needles; dispose of sharps in puncture-resistant containers. Follow safe injection practices to prevent needlestick injuries.
Respiratory Hygiene and Cough Etiquette:
Educate patients and visitors on proper respiratory hygiene, such as covering the mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing and using tissues or the elbow to prevent the spread of respiratory droplets.
Dispose of infectious waste, including used needles and contaminated materials, according to facility guidelines and regulations.
Education and Training:
Stay updated with infection control guidelines and best practices through ongoing education and training programs.
Surveillance and Reporting:
Actively participate in infection surveillance efforts, report any healthcare-associated infections promptly, and collaborate with infection prevention teams to implement control measures.
Educate patients and their families about infection prevention and control practices, including the importance of hand hygiene, medication compliance, and understanding isolation precautions when necessary.
Ensure that you are up-to-date with recommended vaccinations, including influenza and other relevant vaccines, to protect yourself and your patients.
Infection control for nurses is a continuous and integral part of nursing care. Adhering to these practices and guidelines not only helps protect patients but also safeguards nurses and other healthcare workers from exposure to infectious agents. Collaboration with the healthcare team and adherence to facility policies and guidelines are essential for effective infection control in nursing practice.