Less than 20% of nurses comply with standard precautions for infection prevention

Just 17.4 percent of ambulatory care nurses reported that they comply with all nine standard precautions for infection prevention, according to a study in the American Journal of Infection Control.

Researchers from Northwell Health in Great Neck, N.Y., surveyed 116 registered nurses working in ambulatory care settings about their compliance with standard precautions, knowledge of hepatitis C virus and behavioral factors that influence compliance.

The nine standard precautions are listed below.

  1. Provide care considering all patients as potentially contagious
  2. Wash hands after removing gloves
  3. Avoid placing foreign objects on my hands
  4. Wear gloves when exposure of my hands to bodily fluids is anticipated
  5. Avoid needle recapping
  6. Avoid disassembling a used needle from a syringe
  7. Use a face mask when anticipating exposure to air-transmitted pathogens
  8. Wash hands after providing care
  9. Discard used sharp materials into sharp containers

The standard precaution with the highest rate of compliance was wearing gloves (92 percent) and washing hands after providing care (82 percent). Next was wearing a face mask (70 percent).

"Self-reported data might be an overestimate of actual compliance and that makes these results of particular concern for potential exposure to bloodborne diseases," according to the study authors. "Overall, the ambulatory care nurses chose to implement some behaviors and not others, and this behavior puts them at risk for acquiring a bloodborne infection."

The authors also emphasize the importance of finding the reasons for noncompliance and how to encourage total compliance with all nine standard precautions.

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