Infection control is a fundamental aspect of a nurse’s role, as well as the responsibility of everyone who works within healthcare systems (UK Essays, 2013). As for nurses, they are directly involved in providing a biological safe environment for the patients and plays a critical role in preventing and controlling infectious disease (Chitimwango, 2017). Every healthcare worker has an essential influence in limiting the danger of cross-infection – for instance, by verifying that hands are properly washed, the clinical condition is as perfect as could be allowed, and guaranteeing information and abilities are ceaselessly refreshed and by instructing patients and visitors.
The dangers of securing a contamination are the truth for the most defenceless of a patient receiving healthcare. In hospitals, infected patients are a source of infection transmission to other patients, healthcare workers and visitors (Sydnor a & Perl, 2011). While not all infections can be prevented, it is widely accepted that a significant proportion is avoidable and that the behaviour and practices of staff that interact with patients can influence risks. Nosocomial infection, also known as hospital-acquired infections is one of the leading causes of death and has much economic cost due to increased hospitalization and prognosis (WHO, 2015). According to WHO (2010), Hospital-acquired infection is defined as an infection occurring in a patient during the process of care within a healthcare facility which was not present or incubating at the time of admission. These infections are those occurring more than 48 to 72 hours after admission and within ten days after hospital discharge (Collins, 2008).
Nurses Role in Infection Control
Nurses play a vital role in preventing the development and spread of infections among patients. According to Ojulong, Mitonga & Lipinge (2013), infection control practices are aimed at reducing the incidence of nosocomial infections. All nurses in a hospital share responsibilities for monitoring patients, practising good hygiene and implementing all other methods designed to keep hospital sterile and patient’s safety. Using their infection control training, nurses play a vital role in creating a culture of patient safety (Stone, 2013). According to Stone (2013), nurses are on the front lines and can take the lead to explain infection control procedures to the patients. The role of the professional nurse in preventing hospital-acquired infections is significant (Benson & Powers, 2011). The nurse is a member of a health-care team who leads the rest of the group in performing prevention approaches to keep the patient from infection (Benson & Powers, 2011). Healthcare-associated infection is a prominent problem among patients in paediatric intensive units as it could result in significant morbidity, prolonged hospitalization and an increase in medical care costs (Yasmine et al, 2014). According to Yasmine et al. (2014), who assessed the effect of health education program regarding infection control measures on nurses’ knowledge and attitude in paediatric intensive care units stated that the role of nurses is important in preventing hazards and sequels of healthcare-associated infections. All nurses, in all roles and settings, can show leadership in infection prevention and control by using their knowledge, expertise and immediately apply decisions to start appropriate interventions. According to Yamin, Jain, Mandelia and Jayaram (2012), health-care workers must know the various measures for their protection. They should improve the organization of work, implement standard precautions and dispose of biomedical waste properly to prevent occupational exposure. Health-care workers should get themselves immunized against Hepatitis B and report accidental exposure to infectious samples to the infection control committee (Yamin et al., 2012). Nurses play a key role in infection prevention, the health, and well-being of their patients and the financial health of their employers (Olin, 2012).
Hand hygiene is one of the most effective means of preventing nosocomial infections (Lemass et al., 2013). Because nurses have the most contact with the patients, it is essential that they be scrupulous in practising good hand hygiene. Despite the knowledge that dirty hands play a significant role in the spread of health-care related pathogens, and that hand hygiene decreases the spread of these organisms, health-care worker’s adherence with hand hygiene is poor (Dixit et.al, 2012)
Nurses also play a major role in using standard precaution in hospital. Standard Precautions are a set of practices that should be used in the care and treatment of all patients, regardless of whether they are known or suspected to be infected with a transmissible organism (Lemass et al., 2013). According to Lemass et al. (2013), the purpose of Standard Precautions is to break the chain of infection. Implementation of Standard precautions is vital in the prevention of transmission of infection to patients and staffs (Lemass et al., 2013). Nurses have the distinctive opening to lessen the potential for nosocomial infections. Utilizing the skills and knowledge of nursing practice can facilitate patient recovery while minimizing complications related to infections (Benson and Powers, 2011).
Good practices of nurses in infection prevention and control reduces the potential for nosocomial infection thereby promoting patient safety. However, patient safety can be harmed if nurses intentionally fail to comply with implemented infection control measures leading to negligence or malpractice.
Nurses play a vital role in promoting evidence-based infection control practices which ensure the continuity of quality care. All nurses in all roles and settings can demonstrate leadership in infection prevention and control by using their knowledge, skills and judgment to initiate appropriate and immediate infection control procedures. The knowledge, attitudes and practices of nurses affect clinical environment where infection prevention and control is concerned. Efficient knowledge, good attitude and best practices by nurses in infection prevention and control may contribute to decreasing infection rate in the hospital. The majority of healthcare professionals are nurses and therefore nurses have the ability to facilitate safe patient care through infection prevention and control knowledge, attitude and practice in hospitals (Benson and Powers, 2011).
The infection control committee should be more proactive so that they can be able to monitor the rate of Hospital Acquired infections as well as giving feedback to nurses and relevant authorities. Infection control team should strictly observe nurses as they practice. This includes auditing of hand hygiene practices, observe the nurses as they perform invasive procedures, a procedure that requires aseptic technique, isolation of infectious conditions to prevent the spread of infection and application of barrier nursing.