Infection Control in Nursing – Nosocomial Infection
Nosocomial infection is any kind of infection that patients acquire during their stay in the hospital for a treatment of their disease. Therefore, it is also commonly referred as a hospital acquired infection. In the United States, between 5 and 10% of the patients that are admitted to hospitals and health care facilities acquire a nosocomial infection each year (Rizzo & Culvert, 2004). Understanding various aspects of nosocomial infection, such as the chain of infection, is important in nursing process so that the nurses can easily prevent it from happening. They can do so by breaking that chain, for instance, between a vehicle of transmission and reservoir, or just by simply following the transmission based precautions specifically targeting the infectious disease present within the healthcare facility. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) suggests that every year about 2 million patients in the United States get infected this way, and nearly 90,000 of them die as a result; however, nearly 36% of these infections can be prevented if nurses and other healthcare workers follow its guidelines for controlling the infection (Jozefowicz, 2007). Being the main and direct caregiver for many patients in hospital settings, nurses have to follow the standard and specific precautionary measures to help prevent their patients from acquiring the nosocomial infection.
In the article entitled Germ Warfare, Jozefowicz (2007) describes how the pathogens develop resistance to drugs. In healthcare settings the pathogenic microorganisms are exposed to antibiotics so frequently because nurses treat them antibiotic and antiviral drug regimen depending on what type of microbes they are, and those that are not thoroughly treated with these regimens become resistant through mutations. As a result, there are many resistant bacteria in these settings that aren’t easily treatable by antibiotic drug therapies anymore. Patients come to hospital to get treated for one problem but they acquire other illnesses in the process. The patients, being weak and unhealthy, are already susceptible to new infections but the hospital environment makes them prone to far worse infections that are resistant to traditional drug therapies.
In their research study Hospital-acquired Infections, Rizzio and Culvert (2004) suggests that hospitals should adopt variety of infection control programs, especially the ones recommended by CDC to prevent the patient from hospital acquired infection. These programs usually aim to target procedures or lack thereof that lead to infection. Rizzo and Culvert (2004) states that all hospitalized patients are at risk of getting infected, although the severity can vary depending on their age, health, disease, treatment procedures they are going through, etc. For example, nurses will have to pay special attention while taking care of a patient who has urinary catheter in place because of the high risk of causing Urinary Tract Infection. The source of infection might not be an external reservoir; it could just be from within our body. The authors say that the bacteria in our urethra usually cannot enter our bladder, but the catheter could act as the vehicle of transmission to carry these harmful bacteria into our bladder
In conclusion, for nursing practice all these mean treating and taking care of patients while taking steps to protect them from acquiring nosocomial infection, which are very preventable if proper measures are followed. Nurses should use standard precautions of handwashing and using PPE equipment all the time to break the chain of infection. Healthcare facilities do try to take steps to prevent the causing infection such as adopting the CDC infection control procedures, sterilizing the equipments, isolation of patients with known infectious diseases, and employing a person in charge of overlooking the infection control policy and procedures (Rizzo et al). However, at the end it is within the hands of nurses to strictly follow these guidelines. For example, a specific client that has an infectious disease should be cared for using transmission-based precautions so that other patients don’t acquire that infection in addition to normal day to day standard precautions. Nurses should especially know that the hospital patients are very susceptible to resistant bacterial infection since patients’ usually have weak immune system and the resistant pathogens thrive well in healthcare. Among many other reasons, the latter factor is because these pathogenic microorganisms are exposed to antibiotics very often and patients with weakened immune system in the hospitals who can’t fight all the pathogens in their body. Therefore, the more harmful and drug resistant pathogens emerge through mutations at the end. (Jozefowicz, 2007).
Citations for reference sources:
Jozefowicz, C. (2007, February 9). Germ Warfare. Current Science, 92(11), 8-9. EBSCO MegaFile
database. (24244614). Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=keh&AN=24244614&site=ehost-live
Rizzo, T., & Culvert, L. L. (Eds.). (2004). Hospital-Acquired Infections. In The Gale Encyclopedia of Surgery (Vol. 2, pp. 685-688). Retrieved from http://go.galegroup.com.mctproxy.mnpals.net/ps/start.do?p=GVRL&u=mnaminncom