Hospitals are meant to be places of healing, yet every year an estimated 1.7 million Americans will develop an infection while hospitalized – and 99,000 patients will die from one, according to the department of Health and Human Services. These secondary infections are not only devastating to the patient, but they also create an enormous financial burden on the healthcare system as a whole, with a total dollar cost between $28 and $33 billion a year. As a result, there has been a major push for prevention when it comes to these hospital-acquired infections (HAIs).
The CDC estimates that three types of infections account for roughly two-thirds of all HAIs:
- Central line associated bloodstream infection (CLABSI)
- Catheter associated urinary tract infections (CAUTI)
- Ventilator associated pneumonia (VAP)
The first two, CLABSI and CAUTI, have been deemed nearly universally preventable by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). As a result, CMS will no longer pay for the cost of care when they occur. Instead, the tab will be picked up by the hospital itself, since the rules don’t allow the costs to be passed on to the patient. (Some private insurers have followed suit with their own announcements that they will no longer reimburse for CAUTI or CLABSI.) CMS has issued reporting guidelines for HAIs and 35 states also track HAI data.
Nurses play a key role in minimizing the occurrence of these infections. In fact, CDC guidelines include nursing-specific interventions for the prevention of each of them. Yet studies show clinicians don’t reliably follow even the most basic recommendations – like keeping the patient’s head elevated to prevent ventilator associated pneumonia.
American Sentinel has compiled a reference guide in e-book form that outlines nursing’s specific role in preventing these three common HAIs. Each type of infection has specific risk factors that nurses should be aware of, as well as core strategies for prevention (defined by the CDC as those that are backed by high levels of scientific evidence and have demonstrated feasibility.) For example:
- Nurses are responsible for managing indwelling urinary catheters, and can effectively employ core strategies to help prevent CAUTIs. One goal is to minimize overall catheter use. Many hospitals have implemented protocols for nurse-directed removal of unnecessary catheters – these allow for nursing assessment and intervention without a physician’s order.
- With VAP, core prevention strategies focus on interrupting the three most common mechanisms by which it develops: the aspiration of secretions, the colonization of the aerodigestive tract, and the use of contaminated equipment. Nurses can be involved in all these strategies.
- To help prevent CLABSI, all nurses should be aware of the “central line bundle.” The term refers to a group of five evidence-based strategies (described below) for the insertion and management of central lines. When implemented together, the bundled strategies result in better outcomes than when each strategy is implemented individually.
Our e-book guide explains the autonomous nursing actions that can prevent the incidence of HAIs. It was developed specifically for nurses. By outlining the nursing practices that catch potential problems before they occur, our guide supports nurses in their patient-advocacy role.
Please download a complimentary copy of our HAI prevention e-book at here.
And if you are interested in planning, implementing, and evaluating infection prevention and control measures, consider making this field your career specialty. As a first step, you can develop new skills and empower yourself with knowledge through an online RN to BSN/MSN degree or MSN degree with a specialization in infection control from American Sentinel University, an innovative, accredited provider of online nursing degrees.