Can staffing affect infection control?

  1. i have recently obtained a position at a local hospital as the infection control nurse. it is a part time job and one i will have to recieve training for, as i have very limited experience in this area.

    ((i think i got the position because no one else wanted it. lol))

    i am interested in getting away from working on the floor. i am just burned out. the physical demands are wild and the entire experience is so emotionally draining .... and staffing is ridiculous. i am really ready for something different. ((and i am getting older)))

    infection control seems interesting to me, and since i am also a very vocal advocate of nurse to patient ratio's being changed, i also wonder if nurses spend less time handwashing and end up cutting corners in their technique when the staffing ratios are unreal.

    maybe i can also incorporate my fight for safe nurse to patient ratio's into the infection control area as a way to decrease hospital born infections. (((never give up the hope for change)))

    i always laugh when i read an advertisement for a nursing job and the facility boasts "great nurse to patient ratio's." great to whom? administration and their check book or the staff who work it?

    anyone do infection control? do you like it, hate it, anything???any input?
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  2. 7 Comments

  3. by   SitcomNurse
    I cant really say that decreased staffing has made me cut corners with infection control, because if more people get sick, I have more work to do. But alcohol gel has significantly cut down on infections.
    One of the biggest things i did to cut down in infection, was train the housekeeping staff on transmission. As a charge nurse, having never been a IC nurse, I looked for the common denominators, and taught. I did go against policy with a few cleaning methods during outbreaks of different types, but I also had the lowest rates on my unit of easliy communicable infections which were fast spreading. Housekeeping was my biggest asset. Good Luck with your new position.
  4. by   Cheyenne RN,BSHS
    maybe i should clarify what i mean by higher patient ratio's affecting technique by citing several examples that i have witnessed, some by physicians in a rush and some by nurses.

    i have seen nurses get ready to insert a foley into the wrong area ((contaminated foley now)) but because they have already had to get a new one once before and they are behind on their med pass with a patient load of 8 and an admission coming, they go ahead and insert the foley anyway.

    i have seen nurses reuse the same iv needle saying "well i didn't get any blood in it" as justification when they have used up almost an hour of time just trying to get a vein on the person. rounds must be made on all patient's assigned every 2 hours without excuse. a very hard thing to do 99% of the time.

    i have seen nurses just run in from one room to another after cleaning up a c diff patient because another patient was about to fall and they have on the same gloves.....no handwashing or gels were used or even gloves removed.

    i have watched doctor's running behind on procedures break sterile technique or even re-use the same cvc line they just missed with and shake the blood out of the line and flush it with a hint of saline and keep going onto another site for sticking.

    these are thank heavens few and far between...but when human beings are rushed and overloaded they do take short cuts and that is what i meant.

    i do applaude you for teaching your staff, both by example and verbally. thanks for your input. i hope i made myself a little bit clearer. lol

  5. by   canoehead
    I wash my hands much less often if we are too busy to think. If I haev more than 5 things on my "it's gotta be done now" list handwashing to MAYBE prevent an infection takes a back seat to triaging that chest pain to DEFINITELY save some heart cells. Like anything else, handwashing gets prioritized.
  6. by   Indy
    Yeah, having too much to do, sometimes even with a good ratio, affects infection control. We've had a lot of poopy/throwing up patients in the last month, staff have had it, etc. It's really been a problem. The only thing that gives me some inkling of feeling in control of the situation is to spend about 20 mins. at the end of my shift with gloves and a bunch of disinfecting wipes (the really strong kind that kill nearly everything), going over everything I can find. Tops of linen hampers, doorknobs, most of everything at the station, dynamaps, thermometers, scale, etc.

    I know that really what that does, is help prevent the next shift from picking it up for the first 20 minutes of their shift, or until the patients start pooping again. During the shift, I have time to clean my steth a few times, my VS equipment a half dozen times, and the back of my clipboard when I remember it; and of course alcohol gel my hands a lot. Does it help? Heck if I know, it's discouraging to do all this and still come back one day to see your sick heart patients are now throwing up buckets, when they didn't come in with any GI bug.

    Well now, so I've been all over the countertops with a disposable wipe that should kill it all! Dayshift goes to get report, housekeeping shows up. The first thing she does is wipe the counters down with a wet rag that looks like it came out of a month-old bucket of mopwater. I could just cry.
  7. by   psalm
    ...I wipe my stethescope with an alcohol wipe right after each use. I wipe my little phone before I take it and a few times during shift. I remind my aides to wash their hands after being in a c-diff iso...the foam won't do it. I will spray the alcohol foam on my pts. hands and have them rub after they've used the bedside commode or bedpan, then wipe down the container's outside. I have sprayed the foam into the doc's hands after they've examined a pt.

    ...be a role model.
  8. by   kitty=^..^=cat
    FireWolf, my only suggestion as one of those much-maligned administrative types is this - don't use your new position to try and push any specific agenda other than preventing infections. From personal experience I can say say that those personal campaigns for more staffing or money or compliance from MDs can lead to failure if you don't handle them in a manner that's PC at your facility.

    Good Luck - Infection Control can be a fun gig.
    =^..^=
  9. by   Cheyenne RN,BSHS
    boy you are sure right kitty. i am so busy just trying to learn the new terminolgy and play catch up on the things not done since the last ic person left, a "personal agenda" is the last thing on my mind. lol. but i am loving the challenge.

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