Study: More Nurse Input Needed to Reduce Hospital-Acquired Infections

nurse leaders in curbing infection

Nurse leadership necessary to help curb infections in hospitals.

From HealthLeaders Media and the American Journal of Infection Control:

Nurses have long been linked to infection control and prevention. Other research has even shown that nurse staffing hours and certifications can lead to reductions in certain Hospital Acquired Infections or (HAIs).

However, a new study shows nurses alone cannot prevent hospital-acquired infections by themselves. What’s needed is a nurse-led interdisciplinary team-based approach that oversees infection control measures.

While the introduction of infection-prevention policies is often cited by hospitals to curb infections, the study from researchers at the Columbia School of Nursing shows that it’s not enough to keep infection rates down. It also shows that although hospital-associated infections are nursing-sensitive outcomes, it’s not just up to nurses to ensure that IP policies are being followed.

The authors of the study report this research is the “largest survey of acute care hospital infection prevention and control programs reported to date.” Among the study’s major and somewhat damning, findings:

  • Central line-associated bloodstream infections (CLABSI): 92% of ICUs had a policy for an insertion checklist, but only 52% of the healthcare professionals were seen to adhere to that policy
  • Ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP): 74% of ICUs had a ventilator bundle checklist, but only 52% of those treating patients adhered to it
  • Catheter-associated urinary tract infection (CAUTI): 27% of ICUs had a policy for a nurse-assisted catheter insertion, but only 22% were seen to observe that practice

One obstacle to nurse-led cultures may be other medical professionals objecting to being told what to do by nurses and vice versa, but the study stresses the importance of an interdisciplinary core team devoted to curbing infections to be effective.

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