Only 1 in 5 ambulatory care nurses take standard anti-infection precautions the American Journal of Infection Control has reported.
A study published in the journal, the official publication of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC), said that only 17.4 percent of ambulatory care nurses confirmed compliance with nine minimum preventive measures against infections.
The standard precautions are:
- Providing appropriate nursing care considering all patients as potentially contagious
- Washing hands after the removal of gloves
- Avoiding placing foreign objects on hands
- Wearing gloves when exposure of hands to body fluids is anticipated
- Avoiding needle recapping
- Avoiding the disassembling of a used needle from a syringe
- Using facemask when exposure to air-transmitted pathogens is anticipated
- Washing hands after the provision of care
- Discarding used sharp materials into sharps containers
The research was carried out by a team from Northwell Health (formerly North Shore Long Island Jewish Health System). The researchers worked with 116 ambulatory care nurses in order to measure self-reported compliance with precautionary measures, knowledge of hepatitis C virus (HCV), and behaviour around compliance.
Glove wearing showed the highest rate of compliance (92 percent), followed by facemask wearing (70 percent).
Hand washing after glove removal was followed by only 63 percent of participants while 82 percent reported always washing hands after caring for a patient.
The study also revealed that HCV knowledge varied. Twenty-six percent incorrectly thought that it spread through sexual contact and 14 percent erroneously believed that HCV was the cause of premature death.
A further 12 percent did not know HCV antibodies could be present with no infection and 11 percent of nurses did not know there were multiple HCV genotypes.
The study authors said that, as the data was self reported, it could be an overestimate of actual compliance. "That makes these results of particular concern for potential exposure to bloodborne diseases," they said. "Overall, the ambulatory care nurses chose to implement some behaviours and not others, and this behaviour puts them at risk for acquiring a bloodborne infection."
Image Credit: Human Diseases and Conditions