Five ways nurses can prevent hospital-acquired infections

Logically, hospitals should treat and speed up recovery rather than complicate patients’ conditions. However, ensuring a hospital’s healing efficacy doesn’t solely depend upon professional skills and treatment success.

Ensuring the hygiene of its environment, equipment, infrastructure, and workforce is equally essential. Similarly, surgical procedures can also be complicated by infections spread through cathedrals, ventilators, clostridium difficile, and other sources; otherwise, negligence in maintaining cleanliness facilitates the growth of microorganisms, including fungi, bacteria, and viruses.

In the end, the uninterrupted growth of these agents leads to bacterial, fungal, and viral infections, especially in admitted patients. As a result, patients suffer from a range of complications, including pneumonia and tuberculosis.

Similarly, surgical procedures can also complicate by surgical, bloodstream, cathedral-related, ventilator-related, clostridium difficile, and other infections.

More than that, hospital-acquired infections increase liabilities in the healthcare system. Such issues create healing complications, increase costs, prolong recovery, and also occupy healthcare professionals. In that capacity, nurses can contribute to fighting against preventing hospital-acquired infections.

Though nurses have a supportive position when treating patients, their role is not insignificant. It means they ensure such issues do not arise in the first place. Hence, nurses can prevent hospital-acquired infections via better patient care, monitoring, coordination, and hygiene practice.

The following paragraphs further explore some ways for nurses to minimize the likelihood of hospital-acquired infections in patients.

  1. Contribute to minimizing infections

At present, nursing duties do not only focus on serving patients. Advancements in the medical field have also upgraded nursing education and aptitude as well.

As a result, nurses make breakthroughs in patients’ well-being and safety while acquiring a terminal degree in nursing and enhancing existing skills even further.

Specifically, the curriculum and practical examinations focus on developing nurses’ scholarly aptitude. Hence, they are more likely to guide changes in hygiene protocols necessary for patients’ well-being.

As such, nurses’ interaction with patients can help them study the growth and spread of pathogens. Similarly, their research skills can also help in fighting microorganisms resistant to several medications. They even assist experts in finding a cure.

A thorough examination can help nurses identify what gaps facilitate the growth of pathogens, their transmission, and related infections. Once they understand the chain of such complications, they can guide corrective measures for patients’ hygiene.

They can also lead the implementation of updated hygiene policy and train novice nurses and sanitary staff. In the end, hospitals can benefit from their efforts and minimize the causes of hospital-acquired infections.

  1. Maintaining personal sanitation

Scientifically, pathogens need a medium to travel and infect where people can act as their carriers. As such, germs can stick to their hands while they touch contaminated surfaces or objects.

Eventually, they transfer germs to several other tools and people, such as medical apparatus and patients.

Hence, if nurses do not follow essential sanitary protocols, they can spread germs while interacting with patients and medical tools. Since patients already have compromised immunity, germs can overwhelm their defensive systems.

It means hygiene is an inevitable responsibility of nurses when it comes to hospital-acquired infections. Thus they should thoroughly follow hygiene measures, including sanitizing their hands before attending to patients.

Apart from that, they should also wear protective equipment, including masks, bouffant caps, gowns, shoe covers, and gloves. The use of protective gears is crucial while attending to critical care and bedridden patients.

Patients rely on nurses for their hygiene since their immunity is severely compromised.

  1. Utilize disposable coverings

Though utilizing disposable coverings falls under the necessary safety protocols, nurses may skip on changing covers. Sometimes, overwork and fatigue contribute to their carelessness.

Other times, patient rush does not spare enough time in-between checkups to change coverings.

It is how the same covers in the examination rooms or wards can enable patient-to-patient contact. In the end, the risk of acquiring infection increases through a person-to-person transmission of pathogens.

Hence, it is a nurse’s responsibility to ensure every examination follows strict hygiene standards.

As such, they should utilize disposable bed sheets, pillow covers, and examination gowns after every examination. Similarly, they also have to change coverings of ward rooms every day, even if bedsheets appear clean.

Even more fundamental is the dumping of contaminated disposables. If nurses keep stuffing used coverings, patients or their attendants can contaminate themselves.

In the same way, nurses should also coordinate with the cleaning staff and update them regarding proper waste disposal. Though the practice is tedious, it is mandatory to minimize infections.

  1. Guide and educate patients

Since nurses cannot ensure vigilance on patients’ every movement, patients are also required to take accountability. If patients understand that their carelessness can lead to compromising their health, they will act more cautiously.

Given risks to their well-being, they will also heed safety measures and relevant guidelines from nurses.

Hence, patient education is also essential in minimizing the spread of infecting agents. For instance, nurses should guide patients to use liquid disinfectants and sanitize their hands frequently.

They should also encourage patients to use garbage bins and prevent waste accumulation in the facility.

Sometimes, patients walk barefoot inside their wards and get on beds without sanitizing their feet, carrying germs alongside them. Hence, nurses should guide them that the floor contains several harmful pathogens, even if it looks clean.

Apart from patients, attendants can also expose patients to harmful germs. Hence, their awareness is equally crucial, and nurses can help them understand the safety requirements for patients.

Proper guidance and education increase awareness of every participant since negligence and gaps can increase risk factors of hospital-acquired infections.

  1. Coordinate with concerned physicians

Naturally, coordination among nurses and physicians is essential to ensure patients receive better healthcare services. Better teamwork is necessary while attending to patients admitted to the healthcare facility.

Why? Because admitted patients are at a higher risk of exposing to hospital-based pathogens and developing infections.

Sometimes, patients don’t complain until they experience injury-related discomfort, such as pus or inflammation in surgical wounds.

Since nurses are the ones to keep a constant eye on them, any changes in patients’ conditions are readily noticeable to them. Hence, they can identify if such changes can lead to infection – a prime reason why nurses have to maintain uninterrupted coordination with patients’ physicians.

Early detection of infection-facilitating factors can minimize the development of severe issues. Even if patients acquire infections, addressing issues earlier can reduce the likelihood of complications and patients’ discomfort. In extreme cases, patients may suffer from repetitive surgical procedures.

Nurses should intimate concerned physicians right away and ask for corrective measures.

These corrective measures may involve a change of dressing antiseptics or a higher dosage of antibiotics. It may also involve coordination of the administrative staff to strengthen hygiene practice.

Final remarks

Even if hospitals follow hygiene practices, harmful germs can infect patients when they visit hospitals or receive treatment. Hence, preventing infections from developing in the first place is crucial.

Here, nurses can act as a barrier against hospital-acquired infections and related complications. Otherwise, infection-causing pathogens can adjust to the confined atmosphere of facilities and become even more immune.

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