False Nails (Does it promote infection?)

  1. I am curious to what people think about this subject. At the hospital where I work they are really emphasizing that no care giver direct patient care or indirect patient care are permitted to wear false nails. I just don't think that what they are basing it on is correct. I don't know how many people know about the babies who died from the nurses wearing false nails. I just can't help but wander where was their universal precautions and gloves!!!!!!!!!!!I can not believe that false nails harbor that much germs that they could still be intact after a nurse would wash her hands and don and doff gloves. Anyone that can comment on this I would love to hear from. I would also like to know what other hospitals are doing. I am an assistant nurse manager, and I am not permitted to wear them even if I do no patient care. I am considered direct patient care 80% of the time.

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  2. 89 Comments

  3. by   Genista
    We don't have a policy regarding artificial nails at my work, as far as I know.However, several of my RN coworkers do have artificial nails.

    Personally, I don't know how people can work with long nails (starting IVs,blood draws,etc)!It's amazing that you can work w/ them. I find long nails just get in my way & I end up scratching my pts w/o intending to. I try to keep my nails fairly short & bare (never polish @ work).

    I have heard that nail polish and/or artificial nails do harbor more bacteria despite universal precautions.Here's one study in favor of banning them in the workplace:
    http://www.apic.org/news/20000911.cfm


    Obviously, you wouldn't want to risk your patient's health, if you know the false nails are hazardous. Maybe the artificial nails & polish should be for "special occasions" only, and not for at work?

    ~kona

    [This message has been edited by kona2 (edited April 20, 2001).]
  4. by   imaRN
    Our hospital has banned artificial nails this last year, as a Infectious Disease Issue, with the studies showing that the risk is just not worth it to our "sicker Patients" I am on the ID committee and it was passed without much resistance, especially when they found out Metro in Cleveland is "Artificial Nail Free" (at least that is what we were told,) But I'm not sure with short staffing like it is who is the actual "Nail Police".
  5. by   Huganurse
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    Last edit by Huganurse on Jun 30, '02
  6. by   JennieBSN
    I believe there's actually a study in JAMA about the direct relation of nosocomial infections in neonates and artificial nails on caregivers' hands.

    Infection aside, I agree with the posters who say you can't do anything with 'em on. I've had patients who about jumped off the bed when a nurse with art. nails checked their cervix...OUCH! I can't start IV's if my nails are too long (which means past the fingertip), and I can't type either...we use computerized charting. They just aren't worth the hassle. Plus, they're EXPENSIVE!!
  7. by   lpnandloveit1
    when the real nails start to grow in under the fake nails and If you can get that area clean I'll bet you can't get it dry. besides bacteria fungus grows like crazy.
  8. by   CCU NRS
    Hey Kona thanks for the link I found that very informative and thorough. I am a Male nurse so I don't have any problem with fake nails personally, but it would seem the study shows a direct link to these nails harboring Psuedomonas(Sp). I would think that would be enough for any conscientious nurse to get rid of something that is purely vanity driven.

    Cya, Larry
  9. by   fiestynurse
    Nail Fungal Infections are a huge problem. "60 Minutes" just did a documentary on the rise in these types of infections because of unsanitary practices in nail salons across the country. Very little regulation in this area. The fungus gets under the finger nail and is very difficult to get rid off. Takes months and usually requires oral meds, like Sporanox. I am glad that Hospital Infectious Disease Departments are finally looking at this and taking it seriously.

    [ May 29, 2001: Message edited by: feistynurse ]
  10. by   fergus51
    Do you all remember being in school? We weren't allowed to have nails longer than the end of our fingers (fake or real). I would worry about scratching people along with infections. I saw a nurse actually draw blood with her nails when I first started working on a med-surg floor after graduation. ICK!!! Also gloves aren't as great as we all think. You pick them up with dirty hands, and they're dirty too. Not as much, but still dirty.
  11. by   KRVRN
    When I started my job in a NICU last year I asked about fake nails and whether we were allowed to wear them, do they harbor microorganisms, etc. I was told that the research that had been done regarding this DID find some of the same microorganisims on the nurses' nails as were infecting the babies, but it failed to prove who had infected who. Meaning maybe the nurses picked up the microorganisms from touching the babies. I haven't read the research myself though. So I don't know how the research experiment was actually set up. I got the impression that the study wasn't very well set up. Has anyone one out there actually read it that can tell us? And we ARE allowed to wear fake nails in my unit.
  12. by   Doc
    Originally posted by KRVRN:
    <STRONG>When I started my job in a NICU last year I asked about fake nails and whether we were allowed to wear them, do they harbor microorganisms, etc. I was told that the research that had been done regarding this DID find some of the same microorganisims on the nurses' nails as were infecting the babies, but it failed to prove who had infected who. Meaning maybe the nurses picked up the microorganisms from touching the babies.</STRONG>
    That is not the point, KRVRN. If you have false nails, you are likely to get bacterial and fungal infestation under the fingernails, as the study showed, and it is very difficult to get rid of (requires medical treatment). Meanwhile you are a bacterial/fungal reservoir and can easily infect patients, especially if you accidentally scratch them, but as you would know pseudomonas aeruginosa can cause severe respiratory infections as well, so the patient does not need to be scratched or have a wound to become infected. How the pseudomonas got under the fingernails in the first place is not relevant here.
  13. by   RNforLongTime
    Ok I need to add my $0.02 here,

    I have artificial nails. I wash my hand religiously and wear gloves when I am supposed to and as far as I know have never gotten an infection. I know a nurse that is a certified OR nurse and is a member of AORN and she told me that as far as AORN is concerned, that artificial nails are OK with them.

    Really though they are not that expensive. I pay 13 dollars every two weeks to get them filed and polished.

    Just my 2 cents

    Kelly
  14. by   KRVRN
    Yes, of course I realize that artificial nails can act as a reservoir, Doc. And I realize that it makes no difference how the microorganisms got under there in the first place if you can still infect other patients. I was merely introducing the fact that I had heard that the research study was poorly designed. Is it? As I said, I've never read it and I thought I'd post what I'd heard here as food for thought.

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