Nurses Found to Be Side-Stepping Infection Precautions

A study conducted by researchers from one of Long Island’s largest health care entities discovered that fewer than 1 in 5 nurses comply with guidelines for standard precautions for infection prevention. The study conducted by researchers from Northwell Health (formerly North Shore Long Island Jewish Health Systems) surveyed 116 ambulatory care nurses to measure self-reported compliance with standard precautions, knowledge of hepatitis C virus and the behavioral factors that influenced their compliance. The inconsistency associated with nurses’ behavior to adhere to standard precautions put them and their patients at risk for acquiring a blood-borne infection.

Standard precautions are the minimum control practices that nurses should use when caring for their patients, regardless if they appear to be infectious. These include hand-hygiene, the use of personal protective equipment (gloves, face masks, gowns, etc.), safe injection practices, safe handling of potentially contaminated equipment or surfaces in the patient environment, and respiratory hygiene and cough etiquette. The precaution guidelines are used to protect healthcare workers and patients from transmission of diseases that can be spread by contact with blood, body fluids, non-intact skin, and mucous membranes.

Researchers identified only 17.4 percent of nurses complied with all nine standard precautions for infection prevention. Low compliance was cited in critical areas of health care including only 63 percent of participants reported that they always wash their hands after removal of gloves and 82 percent reported that they always wash hands after provision of care. Among the highest rates of compliance were 92 percent wearing gloves, followed by 70 percent always wearing a facemask.

When asked how Hepatitis C is most often spread, as many as 26 percent misidentified the primary mode of transmission as sexual, which ranks low in comparison to needle sharing among drug users or unhygienic body piercing and tattooing.

In recent years Hepatitis C, among other health-care associated infections has escalated at an alarming rate.  According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, these unanticipated infections develop during the course of health care treatment and result in significant patient illnesses and deaths as well as longer hospital stays, and require the additional, costly diagnostic and therapeutic interventions.

For more information about all of your legal options following an infection due to a nurse or medical practitioner’s failure to take standard precautions, contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney today who can advise you of your legal rights. Levine & Slavit, PLLC represents clients in pursuing claims arising out of hospital negligence and will fight for your right to receive compensation. Contact (888) LAW-8088 for a consultation today.

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