Basic Infection Control

hand washing


  • An invasion of pathogens or microorganisms into the body that are capable of producing disease.
  • The invasion and reproduction of microorganisms in a body tissue that can result in a local or systemic clinical response such as cellulitis, fever etc.


Infection Control:

  • Includes all of the practices used to prevent the spread of microorganisms that could cause disease in a person.
  • Infection control practices help to protect clients and healthcare providers from disease by reducing and/or eliminating sources of infection.

Nosocomial Infections:

  • Result from delivery of health services in a healthcare setting, clients are at increased risk.
  • Unfortunately, nosocomial infections lead to increased healthcare costs, extended hospital stays and prolonged recovery time.
  • Hospital acquired infection


Clients in healthcare settings are at risk for acquiring or developing infections because:

1. Lower resistance to infectious microorganisms (due to illness or disease).

2. Exposure to an increased number of and more types of disease-causing organisms. (Hospital harbors a high population of virulent strains of microorganisms that are resistant to antibiotics) MRSA, VRE – super bugs.

3. The performance of invasive procedures. (IV cathetars etc.. Anything that crosses protective barriers)


Nosocomial Infections:

  • Most nosocomial infections are transmitted by health care workers and clients as a result of direct contact.
  • We, as nurses must pay particular attention to washing hands after contact with clients or equipment.


Personal Pointer:

  • Frequent hand washing dries skin. Skin can breakdown and crack, breaking our skin barrier protection.
  • Use hand moisturizer frequently.
  • Protection of the client is priority, however, we must also protect ourselves – as nurses we are at risk for contact with infectious materials or exposure to a communicable disease.

    Principles of Basic Infection Control:

    1. Microorganisms move through space on air currents – avoid shaking or tossing linen.

    2. Microorganisms are transferred from one surface to another whenever objects touch, a clean item touching a less clean item becomes “dirty” – keep hands away from face, keep linens away from uniforms, an item dropped on the floor is considered dirty.

    3. Microorganisms are transferred by gravity when one item is held above another, avoid passing dirty items over clean items eg. Clean items on upper shelves – dirty items on lower shelves (bedpan).

    4. Microorganisms are released into the air on droplet nuclei whenever a person breathes or speaks – avoid breathing directly in someone’s face; when someone coughs/sneezes, cover mouth with kleenex, discard, wash hands.

    5. Microorganisms move slowly on dry surfaces, but very quickly through moisture – use paper towel to turn facets off, dry bath basin before returning to bedside table.

    6. Proper handwashing removes many of the microorganisms that would be transferred by the hands from one item to another – always wash hands between patients.


    Chain of Infection:




    • Infectious agent – microorganisms (bacteria, viruses)
    • Resident – normally reside on the skin in stable numbers
    • Transient – attach loosely to the skin by contact with another – easily removed by handwashing



    Or source of pathogen. Pathogen survives here but may or may not multiply.


    Portal of exit:

    From the reservoir, exit through the skin, respiratory tract, blood. Site where microorganism leaves.


    Mode of transmission:

    Means of spread:

    • travel by air
    • contact
    • droplet


    Portal of Entry: (to the host)

    Enter the same way they exit (open wound, breathe in)


    Host susceptibility:

    • Host must be susceptible to the strength and numbers of the microorganisms.
    • To reduce susceptibility – provide adequate nutrition & rest, promote body defenses against infection & provide immunization.


    Superbugs – MRSA & VRE

    MRSA – methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus

    • common nosocomial infection in hospitals & long term care facilities. This staph aureus is resistant to methicillin
    • MRSA is easily transmitted by health care workers b/c it frequently colonizes on the skin – VERY IMPORTANT TO WASH YOUR HANDS….

    VRE – Vancomycin resistant enterococcus

    • Enterococci are normally found in the bowel and female genital tract. They have been shown to persist in the environment for long periods of time (up to 7 days) on hands, gloves, equipment and surfaces such as bed rails, telephones, stethoscopes, etc.
    • Cross-infection has been attributed to thermometers, commodes, movement of inadequately cleaned patient furniture. Transmission occurs directly via the hands of healthcare workers or indirectly from contact with contaminated environmental surfaces and patient-care equipment.


    Prevention of Transmission:



    Aseptic Technique: 2 types

    • Medical Asepsis – Clean technique; procedures used to reduce & prevent spread of microorganisms ** Handwashing**
    • Surgical Asepsis – Sterile technique; procedures used to eliminate microorganisms **Sterilization**



    • Is the single most important procedure for preventing the transfer of microorganisms & therefore preventing the spread of nosocomial infections.
    • CDC (Centres for Disease Control and Prevention) recommends 10-15 second hand wash. This will remove most transient organisms from the skin.


    Key Points for Personal Hygiene

    • Restrain hair – hair falling forward may drop organisms.
    • Keep nails short – no acrylic nails or chipped nail polish.
    • Minimum jewelry (see agency policy)
    • Cover open wounds with an occlusive dressing


    When should hands be washed:

    • When visibly soiled.
    • Before and after client contact.
    • After contact with a source of microorganisms (blood, body fluids, mucus membranes, non intact skin or inanimate objects that might be contaminated.
    • Prior to performance of invasive procedures (IV catheters, indwelling catheters).
    • Before and after removing gloves (wearing gloves does not remove the need to wash hands).
    • At the beginning and end of every shift.


    Nursing Process:( ADPIE)

    • A problem solving approach allowing nurses to organize and deliver care:
    • Approach to problem solving
    • Enables nurses to organize and deliver care
    • An element of critical thinking which allows nurses to make judgments and take action based on reason
    • Provide a blueprint for critical thinking
    • Used to diagnose and treat human responses to health and illness


    Purpose of the Nursing Process

    • Identify client health care needs
    • Determine priorities
    • Establish goals & expected outcomes of care
    • Establish & communicate a client-centered plan of care
    • Provide nursing interventions to meet client needs
    • Evaluate effectiveness of nursing care


    Ethics and the Law

    • As professionals, nurses are responsible to protect the rights and interests of clients.
    • There is a great deal of trust placed in health professionals, they are expected to:
    • Be qualified
    • Provide safe & competent care
    • Respect our basic human rights


    Nursing Students and Legal Liability

    • Liable if actions cause harm – usually shared by instructor, student, hospital & university
    • Expected to perform as professional nurses – safe client care
    • If employed as aid or LPN do not practice outside of job description


    Code of Ethics for Registered Nurses

    • Reflects moral & ethical standards. Nurses as members of the profession must uphold the standards.
    • Gives guidance for decision-making concerning ethical matters
    • The code supports 7 primary values; Health & well being, choice, dignity, confidentiality, fairness, accountability, practice environments that are conducive to safe, competent and ethical care.



    Health and well-being

    Nurses value health and well-being and assist persons to achieve their optimum level of health in situations of normal health, illness, injury or in the process of dying.


    Nurses respect and promote the autonomy of clients and help them to express their health needs and values, and to obtain appropriate information and services.


    Nurses value and advocate the dignity and self-respect of human beings.


    Nurses safeguard the trust of clients that information learned in the context of a professional relationship is shared outside the health care team only with the client’s permission or as legally required.


    Nurses apply and promote principles of equity and fairness to assist clients in receiving unbiased treatment and a share of health services and resources proportionate to their needs.


    Nurses act in a manner consistent with their professional responsibilities and standards of practice.

    Practice environments conducive to safe, competent & ethical care

    Nurses advocate practice environments that have the organizational and human support systems, and the resource allocations necessary for safe, competent and ethical nursing care.


    Professional Nursing Associations

    • Represent nursing and the best interests of the public.
    • CNA – Canadian Nurses Association – professional association representing 11 provincial & territorial professional nsg associations. (Quebec is not represented)
    • CNA’ mission – to advance the quality of nursing in the interests of the public



    College of Registered Nurses of N.S.

    Both a professional association and the regulating authority for registered nurses in Nova Scotia

    CRNNS works with registered nurses and the public to advance, promote & regulate the practice of nursing and to advocate for public policy supportive of good health & health services


    Nursing Standards

    • Through legislation the nursing profession is granted the authority to set standards for the practice & education of its members with an obligation to protect the public.
    • Describe the desirable & achievable level of performance expected of R.Ns’ in their practice & against which actual performance can be measured.
    • Used to assess the professional conduct of all R.N.s’ in N.S.
    • Accountability & Responsibility
    • Continuing Competence
    • Application of Knowledge
    • Advocacy


    Consumer Rights for Health Care

    • Refers to both legal and ethical standards that are important to the patients’ well being.
    • Nurses are legally and ethically responsible to ensure that the client receives competent & holistic care.

    1. Right to be Informed

    2. Right to be respected as the individual with a major responsibility for his/her own health care

    3. Right to participate in decision making affecting his/her own health

    4. Right to equal access to health care regardless of the individual’s economic status, sex, age, creed, ethnic origin, and location.

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