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'Remind others to wash their hands as part of new NICE goals'

Quality standard on preventing healthcare-associated infections in hospitals recommends all staff are set infection control objectives

Nurses could be set objectives to ensure all staff entering their ward follow infection control procedures such as handwashing, a nurse consultant has suggested.

A new quality standard from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) on healthcare-associated infections (HCAIs) in secondary care includes a recommendation that all hospital staff, including nurses, have personal objectives for infection prevention and control. Feedback on their performance against these objectives should then be given at their appraisal, it says.

Independent neurology nurse consultant Jane Bradshaw, a member of the advisory committee that developed the quality standard, said she stressed during the process that infection control must be seen as the responsibility of all healthcare staff, not just nurses.

A Health Protection Agency survey found 6.4% of inpatients in acute care hospitals in 2011 had an HCAI, with the most common being pneumonia and other respiratory infections, and urinary

Nurses could be set objectives to ensure all staff entering their ward follow infection control procedures such as handwashing, a nurse consultant has suggested.

A new quality standard from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) on healthcare-associated infections (HCAIs) in secondary care includes a recommendation that all hospital staff, including nurses, have personal objectives for infection prevention and control. Feedback on their performance against these objectives should then be given at their appraisal, it says.

Independent neurology nurse consultant Jane Bradshaw, a member of the advisory committee that developed the quality standard, said she stressed during the process that infection control must be seen as the responsibility of all healthcare staff, not just nurses.

A Health Protection Agency survey found 6.4% of inpatients in acute care hospitals in 2011 had an HCAI, with the most common being pneumonia and other respiratory infections, and urinary tract infections.

Ms Bradshaw said a possible objective for a nurse on a ward could be to ensure all staff entering the clinical area, including doctors, follow infection control policies such as handwashing.

‘Every nurse has, as part of the code of conduct, to ensure the patient’s safety,’ she said. ‘If that means reminding the doctors they are working with to wash their hands, they should.’

Ward nurses could also have an objective to follow mandatory training on infection control, while ward managers could have an objective to reduce infection rates, said Ms Bradshaw. She added: ‘I wouldn’t think individual nurses need to be equally concerned about infection rates.’

RCN professional lead for infection prevention and control Rose Gallagher said the quality standard is ‘positive’, and the recommendation for individual infection control objectives will help establish leadership in this area beyond infection control teams.

‘The objectives might be around continuing professional development or undertaking a piece of work,’ she said.

But she added: ‘My concern would be that a blanket approach is taken to appraisal and development plans that aren’t necessarily meaningful to individual members of staff.’

The quality standard also recommends that healthcare staff involved in hospital admissions, discharges and transfers ensure information about a patient’s infection is shared with other health and social care professionals. Ms Bradshaw said: ‘It is about communication right across the board.’

Read the quality standard here

Key facts

  • The quality standard contains five statements designed to drive improvements in hospitals.
  • One of these is that hospitals involve infection prevention and control teams in the building, refurbishment and maintenance of hospital facilities.
  • Common HCAIs and those ‘of local relevance’ should be monitored and hospitals should work with local organisations to manage the risk of infections from community outbreaks.

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