Five essential infection prevention and control tools for every nurse

Content courtesy of Baylor University.

Infection prevention and control is the responsibility of all healthcare providers.

With the COVID-19 pandemic upon us, infection prevention and control are on everyone’s radar — including the general public.

Nurses learn about clean and sterile techniques as part of infection prevention in their licensing programs. However, caring for patients can be hectic. This can lead to omitting important steps — either wittingly or unwittingly — regarding best practices with infection control.

In order to keep your patients and yourself safe, it’s imperative to use evidence-based infection prevention and control practices at all times.

We spoke with two experts in the field of infection control and prevention and performance improvement to review five essential tools for nurses.

1 — Hand-washing

“The most important tool for infection control and prevention is proper hand-washing,” said Michele George, MBA, BSN, RN, CLSSGB, a national director on the Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses board of directors and a performance improvement specialist at Memorial Hermann Health System in Spring, Texas. “Its significance cannot be overstated. Hand-washing is one of the best ways to protect yourself, your family and others from illness.”

Everyone should follow these five steps described by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) every time they wash their hands:

  1. Wet your hands with clean, running water.
  2. Lather your hands, including the back of your hands, between your fingers and under your nails.
  3. Rub your hands together for a minimum of 20 seconds. Sing the Happy Birthday song from start to finish twice, which lasts about 20 seconds.
  4. Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
  5. Dry your hands using a fresh paper towel or clean cloth towel, or air dry them.

George said it may sound crazy, however, it’s important to take a sixth step, which many nurses already practice.

“Remember to turn off the faucet with a clean, dry paper towel and use the towel when touching the door handle to leave the bathroom,” she said. “Dispose of the towel in the trash. If you don’t, you’ll be recontaminating your hands when you shut off the faucet and/or open the door to exit the bathroom.”

2 — Hand sanitizer

With regards to hand sanitizer, George pointed out the CDC recommends washing hands with soap and water whenever possible because hand-washing reduces the amount of many types of germs, chemicals and visible dirt and grease.

“If soap and clean water are not available, using a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol can help reduce the number of germs,” she said.

Per the CDC, George said hand sanitizers may not be as effective as soap and water as they:

  • Cannot remove all types of microbes
  • Are not as efficient for removing visible dirt and grease
  • Do not remove harmful chemicals, pesticides and heavy metals

The CDC advises using the right amount of hand sanitizer based on the label’s instructions. Apply sanitizer on the palm of one hand, rub both hands together while rubbing the gel on all surfaces of the hands and all fingers until your hands become dry, which …read more

Read full article here: