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6.1 Infection Cycle

By understanding the conditions that foster the spread of infection, nurses can implement evidence-based interventions to break the cycle and stop the chain of infection. Nurses must have a thorough understanding of how to protect themselves and their patients from exposure to harmful pathogens. Nurses should gather the signs and symptoms of infections through examination, patient history, and healthcare records. The infection cycle has six specific phases that all must be completed in order for an infection to matriculate. These six pieces are causative agent, reservoir, portal of exit, mode of transmission, portal of entry, and susceptible host. Breaking this chain at any point can stop the spread of infection. Understanding the various types of immune responses will help nurses to identify infection and initiate treatment. The human body’s immune system provides a mechanism for staying healthy through protection against harmful pathogens. An immune response can be classified as either nonspecific, meaning it targets pathogens in a nonspecific manner, or specific, meaning it allows for a high level of adaption and effectiveness against a specific pathogen.

6.2 Asepsis and PPE

Comprehensive knowledge related to infection prevention and control is essential for nurses to protect themselves and patients from the transmission of infection. The two types of asepsis are medical and surgical. Medical asepsis is often referred to as clean technique, while surgical asepsis is often referred to as sterile technique. Understanding the use of personal protective equipment and knowing when to use which type of equipment are key components of infection prevention. By incorporating thorough assessment and applying prevention strategies, nurses are empowered to reduce transmission of pathogens within healthcare environments and the community. One major risk factor to hospital admittance is healthcare-associated infections. The most common HAIs are associated with invasive devices: catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTIs), central line–associated blood stream infections (CLABSIs), ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP), and surgical site infections (SSIs). These infections often have intensive treatment and compound on the original reason for hospitalization, leading to increased healing time for patients.

6.3 Sterile Technique

Environmental factors play a large role in infection prevention and transmission. Environmental cleaning is a fundamental principle of infection prevention because contaminated equipment and surfaces play a major role in transmission. Improving cleaning practices and increasing compliance reduces the exposure to pathogens and, therefore, reduces incidences of infection. To minimize the risk of transmission of infection, there are three levels of cleaning of which nurses should be knowledgeable: sanitization, disinfection, and sterilization. Moreover, it is critical that nurses understand and utilize the principles of the skill of sterile technique as an essential element of patient safety.

6.4 Infection Control and Patient Safety

Nurses play a critically important role in ensuring patient safety while providing care directly to patients. When standard precautions are not enough to protect patients and healthcare workers against pathogens, nurses must use transmission-based precautions, which provide additional support for infection prevention. Nurses can advocate for themselves, patients, and families to ensure that agencies follow proper policies and procedures to promote the highest patient outcomes. All healthcare employees must receive proper training and education regarding how to reduce their risk for exposure. This may include exposure to certain substances as well as sharps safety. Emphasis must be placed on following proper hand hygiene, and proper PPE protocols can greatly reduce risk of exposure. Special considerations should be made regarding the use of antibiotics to not increase the incidence of MDROs. Patient education on this topic helps to prevent infection with these resistant bacterial agents.


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