The aim of this essay is to ascertain what hospital acquired infection entails, the detrimental effects it causes and to highlight the active role nurses can take in the prevention of this type of infection.
Hospital acquired (or nosocomial) infection is: 'one that originated in the hospital environment; i.e. was not present or incubating on admission and which appeared 48h or more after admission' (Azzam et al. 2001). Infection is caused by pathogenic organisms which invade the hosts immunological defence mechanism; this can be through wounds left by invasive procedures whereby the host's natural body defences have been bypassed.
It is the nurses' responsibility to know the factors that can increase patients' susceptibility to infection (i.e. age, underlying disease, drug therapy, or if they are undergoing surgery), this enables nurses to be able to assess which patients are most at risk so that they can develop a care plan and therefore they will know what extra, if any, precautions to take and protocols to follow.
Sproat and Inglis (1992) cited by Mallett et al. (2000, p, 40) suggest that the assessment of a patient's risk of infection to others, in nursing care plans, before the commencement of any procedure is a fundamental principle of infection control. The Bowell-Webster risk assessment guide for identifying patients at risk of infection (1990) cited in Alexander et al. (2000, p, 595) can be used to decide which protocols to follow.
Steed (1999) states that not all nosocomial infections relate directly to the patients' underlying disease but that many are caused by the actions of healthcare workers. Therefore great care must be taken by healthcare workers, especially nurses, who are directly involved in the care of patients. In this essay I am going to discuss the procedures followed by nurses to eradicate, if at all...