This paper explores publications of on results from research conducted both offline and online on the role of nurses in the p

Nurses’ Role






This paper explores publications of on results from research conducted both offline and online on the role of nurses in the prevention of healthcare-associated infections. With almost every publication indicating that nurses play a vital role in preventing most of the health care infections, the aim is of this research is to give objective evidence of their participatory role in preventing such infections. This research will concentrate on five sources for comprehensive outlay information on how their day to day activities are largely a step towards prevention rather than cure.


According to Surveillance of healthcare associated infections (2003), healthcare-associated infections have been defined as those infections that had not been previously diagnosed during admission but only developed during hospitalization of the patient, with a time range consideration of infections that occur 48 to 72 hours after admission and 10 days after discharge. Transmission of infection to the patient or even to the practitioner will only occur at the presence of a specific infectious bacterium and a transmitting agent.

Numerous studies have been undertaken on this topic simply because nurses are placed in a unique position to have direct contact with patients more often if not always. Their pivot role in the care, success and full recovery of patients has conspicuously high lightened their prominence in the prevention of healthcare-infections. Their significance in preventing healthcare-infections have been seen through their consistency in conduct audits and control of a decontaminated environment, hand hygiene, behavioral etiquettes and patient education, personal protective equipment’s and the leadership role in the health practice.

In many hospital domains, every healthcare administrator is entrusted with the responsibility of prevention. Quality improvement initiatives have been speared particularly on healthcare-associated infections. Infection Control Practitioners survey, calculates and reports the infection rates of certain pathogens within the units (Becker, 2005). To mitigate this, training of nurses to take control measures is immediate and effective to make sure the situation is under control. In addition, Occupational Safety and Health administration requires that all nurses and licensed practitioners undergo training on preventing blood borne pathogens exposure annually.

Nurses participate in this role by the periodic audit evaluations on safety activities within the ward. The aseptic care gives them an opportunity to mitigate these infections. Through their analysis, nurses will apply evidence based procedures on patients concerning a certain reaction and this helps in preventing hospital associated infections. They also ensure that the environment is decontaminated and all the medical tools and equipment’s have all met the safety standards. This will help regulate the transmission of pathogens.

The environment surrounding a patient in most cases is contaminated. This happens because of the pathogenic microorganisms that are shed daily from the patient’s body to his or her clothes, bedding and even the floor. This makes almost every surface be contaminated with these pathogens. This can lead to cross-transmission of pathogens either from contaminated surfaces or the. Nurses can reduce this through the use of clean and medicated equipment’s at their disposal and proper disinfection of common tools before use and after use (Child, 2004).

Hand hygiene can be viewed a simple hygiene issue but can lead hazardous implications. A simple hand wash can help prevent infections, especially when using antiseptics to clean them. Much attention has been given by nurses concerning the hand hygiene issue and it has assisted them prevent spread of microorganisms, especially through contacts with contaminated surfaces. Hands are a viable carrier and research has shown that once a nurse gets into a patient room, the hands are vulnerable to pathogen even without physical contact with the patient (Child, 2004). Nurses occasionally wash their hands to prevent transmission, others use hand gloves in every ward to mitigate the flow of pathogens. Hand washing has been regarded as a must-do health care practice by the Joint Commission Infection Control Standard for every nurse and licensed practitioner.

Extensive research done by nurses on behavioral etiquettes such as cough etiquette, has also been viewed as a struggle towards prevention of the flow of respiratory pathogens that cause influenza. Coughing and sneezing causes flow of mucous droplets in the air. Contact with the mucous membranes or the droplets in the air within the vicinity will result to infection. Nurses can help in prevention or stop of respiratory pathogens flow in the air through identifying an ailing person and putting him or her under a quarantined safe environment to stop the spread. Coughing etiquette is consistently practiced by the healthcare staff and even advice patients on the use of tissues to cover their mouths or noses while sneezing, washing hands after coming in contact with respiratory secretions, use of surgical masks to contain serious conditions, primarily when dealing with patients with highly infectious respiratory pathogens.

Nurses get so much involved in active campaigns and educative seminars on various ways to prevent infections, not only within the health facilities but also in respective homes. To help patients live a responsible lifestyle, they have been instrumental in giving them take-home advices on preventive measures to certain pathogens. Educations on etiquette, maintaining a clean environment and also on issues related to body cleanliness that will help protect you from pathogen. Currently, nurses have been seen to be on the forefront to educate youths on the use of condoms to practice safe sex. This helps in prevention of sexually transmitted infections not only in the health sectors but outside the health units.

Nurses also prevent transmission of diseases through the use of protective equipment’s while handling patients, such as the use of gloves to administer wounds. Particularly on intravenous therapy, they can protect themselves against infections by using sterile fields, masks and even gowns. This personal protective equipment’s used by nurses prevents exposure to contaminated grounds or areas. The gowns are worn to protect the nurse from contaminating his or her clothes with the patient and are immediately removed and cleansed thoroughly by antiseptics to ensure that every breeding microorganism is destroyed. In the presence of an outbreak, they dress in air tight gowns to help them stay safe and avoid spreading the disease to others. Their keen concern on dressing makes them replace them immediately when loosened or damp.

Leadership culture as embraced by nurses has been seen to be an essential tool in the fight against spread of pathogens. This involves communal teamwork involving all nurses together with their leaders to maintain healthy standards and ensure that all ethics are followed to the latter (Fraise, 2009). Always, the end justifies the means and if patients are successfully discharged without them being victims of healthcare-associated infections, it proves that all safety standards are upheld and maintained. Health leaders ensure that every nurse in highly educated on healthy standard issues and how to prevent infections. Nurses dedicate their efforts to make sure that all patients are safe and recover in due time without the possibilities of further complications. They strive to minimize the possibilities of errors in their nursing activities this this in turn minimizes undesired outcomes such as transmission of microorganism. The commitment to safe passage of patients by nurses helps a lot in mitigating this spread. Leadership is vital, especially in the employment of competent nurses who give proper diagnosed results and administers proper treatment to their patients. This also helps in reducing such incidents.

It is true that not all infections can be prevented but depending on the patient susceptibility, nurses have a great responsibility to prevent healthcare associated infections (Fraise, 2009). Health care facilities are filled with different microorganism pathogens that if not mitigated will end up bringing complications to every visitor in the facility. Many bacteria’s are transmitted through contact and nurses can help prevent this through maintaining a clean environment and use of protective gears to prevent exogenous contact with disease causing pathogens, Health education to patients to make them become aware and take responsibility of their health through making preventive measures as their daily routine and To help reduce the microbial load, they should ensure proper use of protective gears and wash their hands immediately they are done. It is without a doubt that nurses’ role in prevention and mitigation of healthcare-associated infections can not be ignored and their contributions; once successfully enforced, should be acknowledged and credited.


Becker C. (2005) Full disclosure. CDC to give guidelines for reporting infection rates. Modal Health; 35(9):8-9.

Child, A. P. (2004). Keeping patients safe transforming the work environment of nurses. Washington, D.C.: National Academies Press.

Fraise, A. P. (2009). Ayliffe’s Control of healthcare-associated infection: a practical handbook. (5. Ed.). London: Hodder Arnold.

Healthcare associated infections 2011 report to the Washington State Legislature.. (2011). Olympia, Wash.: Washington State Dept. of Health.

Reducing healthcare associated infections in hospitals in England: report. (2009). London: TSO

Surveillance of healthcare associated infections. (2003). London: Dept. of Health.


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