How Can Nurses Prevent Hospital-Acquired Infections?


While all hospitals are spaces where people heal from various illnesses and conditions, there is always a risk of on-site infections. In some cases, fast-spreading diseases are difficult to contain, which is why it’s crucial for nurses to practice more than simple hygiene alone.

Let’s consider a few ways in which nurses can help to stem the spread of hospital-acquired infections.

Handwashing is vital

The cornerstone of all good nursing care is handwashing. It’s arguably the nurse’s number one weapon against infectious diseases and pathogens, regardless of the people they care for.

To prevent cross-infection between patients, and any foreign bodies entering wounds or sites of access, nurses should always seek to wash thoroughly with antimicrobial soap and water. Otherwise, they should practice handwashing with alcohol rubs.

At the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, alcohol-based handwashing spiked. This arguably helped bring the importance of hand cleanliness to wider society, even after experts advised that the novel coronavirus is largely aerosol-dispersed.

Wound irrigation provides an extra layer of protection

Something nurses learn early on during their schooling, such as through an online MSN from the University of Indianapolis, is the practice of irrigating wounds efficiently.

Cutaneous wound irrigation helps protect at-risk patients from contracting and developing hospital-acquired conditions. This practice should occur alongside careful redressing of wounds, which also includes the removal of necrotic tissue where appropriate.

Barrier protection may be necessary

Wearing barrier protection is a proven way to help prevent the spread of various diseases, infections and other conditions. Often referred to as personal protection equipment (PPE), this includes protective face masks, sterile gowns, caps and gloves.

By wearing these items when attending to patients with open sores or wounds in a hospital setting, nurses help to reduce the risk of their charges becoming more ill.

Care with catheters

A frequent access route for hospital-acquired infections is catheter tubes and intravenous lines. Such lines of access should always be carefully sterilized before use.

Additionally, nurses should always remove catheters when not in use. Mindful use of catheters can help to keep patients at increased risk of illness from developing potentially harmful conditions.

Always report

Reporting any changes to patient care, whether changing catheters, dressing wounds or performing checks is vital. To avoid potential medical malpractice, a clear record of the patients’ treatments helps keep everyone informed.

This is extremely useful in preventing the spread of illness and hospital-borne conditions. Ensuring each nurse or medical practitioner is aware of action taken with a specific patient, there will be a much lower risk of accidental harm, such as through improper catheter or IV use, or by leaving dressings for too long.

Modern medicine works immensely hard at preventing the spread of various life-threatening illnesses, but it’s still important for individual nurses to ensure they protect their patients as much as physically possible in their day-to-day interactions.

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