Understanding Nursing Procedure # 5: Infection Control

Good infection control is a hallmark of nursing. No matter the patient's condition, cross-infection is possible in any hospital setting, no matter how sterile. But there are steps you can take to reduce the chances of infection in your patients, and help to keep yourself safe at the same time.

Infection Control Basics

When dealing with infection control, one of the most important things is protecting yourself. If you can prevent becoming infected, you can then avoid spreading that infection to others. This is best done with barrier methods, such as a gown, mask, gloves, and protective eye-wear. Washing hands before and after dealing with any patient can also help stem the spread of infection.

Standard Precautions for Infection Control

As a nurse, your focus on infection control must be constant. Maintain standard precautions anytime you are in the presence of the following:

  • Mucous membranes
  • Skin with wounds or lesions
  • Bodily fluids
  • Blood

Nursing Procedure for Infection Control

Barrier protection is an important part of infection control. Use the following nursing procedures to reduce your risk of becoming infected and carrying that infection to other patients:

  • Gloves. Washing your hands and using gloves is the first line of defense against infection.
  • Gowns. Wear gowns when a field needs to remain sterile, or when you might come into contact with bodily fluids.
  • Eye-wear. This prevents blood or other fluids from splashing into your eyes.
  • Face Shields. These are used when there is a great possibility of spraying blood.
  • Masks or respirators. Masks protect your face from fluids, but not from airborne infections. For airborne precautions, a respirator must be used.

Proper Nursing Procedure to Dispose of Medical Waste

Infection is not spread only by contact with the patient--it can be spread by improper disposal as well. Keep the following tips in mind to stay safe:

  • Never recap a used needle. Place it in the sharps container instead.
  • Always wear gloves when handling lab specimens.
  • Use Bio-hazard bags for anything that might cause infection if touched.
  • Dispose of medical waste only in the proper receptacles.
  • If bodily fluids or blood is spilled, use proper procedures to clean it as soon as possible.
  • Consider all linens contaminated and handle them accordingly.

A Final Note on Infection Control

When you are finished tending to a patient, be sure to remove all the barrier equipment you used and dispose of it properly. It might seem as though you go through a massive amount of gloves, masks, and the like, but it is entirely necessary. Never reuse an infection control product.


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