100 Percent Of Nurses Witness Lapses In Infection Prevention During Clinicals

A new British study finds that 100 percent of student nurses surveyed observed lapses in infection prevention and control practices during their clinical placements,

The new study published in the American Journal of Infection Control notes that “Infection prevention and control (IPC) education is a fundamental component of the nursing curriculum, but little is understood about nursing students’ experience of IPC in the clinical setting when they are learning by observing qualified practitioners.”

The study was conducted by researchers at Cardiff University and City University, London by way of an anonymous online survey among nursing students in the United Kingdom. Researchers were attempting to identifying how often nurses witnessed a range of possible lapses in IPC during clinical practicums.

During the 19-question survey, all 488 students said they witnessed at least one instance of non-compliance.

According to survey takers, the biggest issue and most frequently witnessed issue was improper hand hygiene. Seventy-five percent of respondents said they witnessed healthcare workers who failed to clean their hands between patients. Sixty percent saw healthcare workers wearing nail polish or nail extensions.

Other issues included “failure to comply with isolation precautions, inadequate cleaning of the patient environment, not changing personal protective clothing between patients, and poor handling of sharp instruments.”

The nursing students said most violations were witnessed at the physician level, especially in terms of hand hygiene, handling and disposal of sharp instruments, and failure to use sterile techniques during insertion of medical devices.

Regardless of occupation within the hospital setting all workers were accused of touching the face, biting nails, and scratching during patient care.

According to the study’s authors:

“Overall, the findings support the conclusions of earlier researchers who explored experiences of IPC in the clinical setting. Qualified staff provided poor role models for student nurses. The findings of this study indicate the need for better role models for student nurses.”

You can read the full study in the American Journal of Infection Control, Volume 41, Issue 9 (September 2013).