Surgical patients, older patients, as well as patients from acute and intensive care units are often at risk of suffering from a variety of healthcare-acquired infections. One of the approaches to address the risks and guarantee safety for patients is to develop certain rules and policies on hand hygiene norms for the nursing and medical staff, as well as admitted patients (Stahmeyer et al., 2017). The purpose of this paper is to provide the background information on this issue, analyze its significance in the context of nursing practice, and provide three appropriate PICOT (population, intervention, comparison, outcome, time-frame) questions.
Description of the Issue and Background Information
The COVID-19 pandemic and the spread of healthcare-acquired infections in medical facilities have drawn nurses’ and other medical professionals’ attention to the issue of hand hygiene in surgical and intensive care units. Thus, about 7-10% patients from acute care units are usually at risk of acquiring infections in healthcare facilities because of not following hand hygiene regimens in hospitals (Stahmeyer et al., 2017). These infections can lead to the development of complications and even deaths in patients, especially with a focus on the geriatric population. In order to realize the infection control policies, both nurses and patients should be effectively trained and educated on how to apply appropriate hand hygiene procedures. These procedures usually include hand washing guidelines and recommendations regarding the use of hand sanitizers (Haverstick et al., 2017). In addition, nurses are also required to use personal protective equipment when working with patients, especially in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In spite of the fact that nurses are required to follow hand hygiene guidelines strictly, their adherence to this policy can be minimal. Furthermore, policies regarding the patient education in healthcare facilities can also differ (Schmidt & Brown, 2019). In this context, to reduce the spread of healthcare-acquired infections and pathogens, as well as SARS-CoV-2, in clinical settings, it is necessary to determine how hand hygiene interventions applied for patients can change the situation. These interventions can become critical in improving patients’ safety and quality of care.
Significance of Hand Hygiene in Healthcare Facilities to Nursing Practice
The focus on adherence to hand hygiene guidelines and the guarantee of effective patient education are important in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. The problem is that, if nursing staff does not demonstrate compliance with hand hygiene policies and rules or they do not provide the necessary patient education, risks of transmitting pathogens in healthcare facilities increase significantly. It is critical for nurses to ensure their patients, especially in surgical and intensive care units, are informed about hand hygiene procedures and follow them strictly (Haverstick et al., 2017). For example, nurses should provide patients with guidelines on where they can wash hands, what soap or sanitizers to use, and how often to wash hands.
Furthermore, it is also essential for nurses to address the clinical guidelines on hand hygiene when working with patients. As a result, certain interventions should be tested in order to determine how hand hygiene can influence the spread of bacteria, viruses, or pathogens in healthcare facilities (Stahmeyer et al., 2017). It is possible to observe significant reductions in the number of healthcare-associated viruses and bacteria spread in hospitals when hand hygiene interventions are applied by patients and nurses who provide the required education for clients.
It is necessary to formulate three PICOT questions reflecting the population, the selected intervention, compared interventions, outcomes, and a time frame. These questions should allow the analysis of the topic of the role of hand hygiene in clinical facilities from several perspectives. As a result, the provided PICOT questions will be formulated to test how certain hand hygiene related interventions applied to both patients and nurses can affect patients’ outcomes:
- PICOT Question One: In patients from intensive care units (P), how can an additional patient education on hand hygiene (I) compared to following standard rules (C) lead to reductions in spreading infections (O) during a 5-day hospital stay (T)?
- PICOT Question Two: In older patients from intensive care units (P), what is the effect of hand hygiene training applied for nurses (I) compared to the absence of such training (C) on patients’ safety (O) during their 2-3 days of a hospital stay (T)?
- PICOT Question Three: In surgical patients (P), what is the impact of a hand hygiene intervention (I) compared to the standard use of sanitizers (C) on transmitting various healthcare-acquired infections (O) during an average patient’s stay in a hospital (T)?
The adherence to hand hygiene norms and policies in hospital settings is a requirement in order to decrease the possibility of transmitting pathogens. The problem can be observed in those situations when patients are not properly informed on how to organize their hand hygiene effectively or when nurses and other staff do not demonstrate compliance with guidelines in medical settings. For the purpose of reducing risks for patients, it is necessary to research how hand hygiene interventions can change the situation and what effects can be observed in nursing practice. The research can be based on the proposed PICOT questions.
Haverstick, S., Goodrich, C., Freeman, R., James, S., Kullar, R., & Ahrens, M. (2017). Patients’ hand washing and reducing hospital-acquired infection. Critical Care Nurse, 37(3), e1-e8. Web.
Schmidt, N. A., & Brown, J. M. (2019). Evidence-based practice for nurses: Appraisal and application of research (4th ed.). Jones & Bartlett Learning.
Stahmeyer, J. T., Lutze, B., Von Lengerke, T., Chaberny, I. F., & Krauth, C. (2017). Hand hygiene in intensive care units: A matter of time? Journal of Hospital Infection, 95(4), 338-343. Web.