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HAIs 'Not Just a Nursing Problem'

Alexandra Wilson Pecci, for HealthLeaders Media, February 18, 2014

Nurses cannot prevent hospital-acquired infections by themselves. What's needed is a nurse-led interdisciplinary team-based approach, says the author of a study on infection prevention.

A study from researchers at the Columbia School of Nursing shows that the mere presence of infection-prevention policies isn't 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, published in the American Journal of Infection Control, write that their 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

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 HAIs.

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