Prevention of nosocomial infections in intensive care patients*

ArticleinNursing in Critical Care 15(5):251-6 · September 2010with27 Reads
Impact Factor: 0.65 · DOI: 10.1111/j.1478-5153.2010.00409.x · Source: PubMed


    Changes in patient profile, and in the health care environment, altering socioeconomic conditions and advances in science and information technology challenge the nursing profession, in particular intensive care nursing. All these changes will undoubtedly affect the way we will practice in the (near) future. A comprehensive understanding of these factors is therefore essential if nursing is to meet the challenges presented by tomorrow's critical care environment. Precisely because of the often expensive high-tech evolutions that have occurred at a rapid pace and are to be further expected, a continued focus on the basics of nursing, the core role of care, as well as maintaining confidence in the capacity to deliver safe, high-quality, and evidence-based patient care will increasingly be a challenge to critical care nurses. In particular, basic nursing skills and knowledge remain a key prerequisite in the prevention of nosocomial infections, which is a continuing major complication and threat to intensive care unit patients. However, critical care nurses' knowledge about the evidence-based consensus recommendations for infection prevention and control has been found to be rather poor. It has nevertheless been demonstrated that a meticulous implementation of such preventive bundles may result in significantly better patient and process outcomes. Moreover, many preventive strategies are considered to be easy to implement and inexpensive. As such, a first and critical step should be to increase critical care nurses' adherence to the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
    In this article, an up-to-date assessment of evidence-based recommendations for the prevention of nosocomial infections, with special focus on catheter-related bloodstream infections and strategies relevant for nurses working in critical care environments, will be provided. Additionally, we will detail on a number of approaches advocated to translate the internationally accepted consensus recommendations to the needs and expectations of critical care nurses, and to consequently enhance the likelihood of successful implementation and adherence. These steps will help critical care nurses in their striving towards excellence in their profession.
    Intensive care nurses can make a significant contribution in preventing nosocomial infections by assuming full responsibility for quality improvement measures such as evidence-based infection prevention and control protocols. However, as general knowledge of the preventive measures has been shown to be rather poor, nurses' education should include supplementary support from evidence-based recommendations.