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Implications of a US study on infection prevention and control in community settings in the UK

02 December 2020
Volume 25 · Issue 12


Healthcare-associated infections are a significant reason for readmission to hospital post-discharge to the community. In this paper, the authors describe some of the key findings from a programme of work conducted in a home care agency (community care organisation) in the US. A survey was conducted to explore home care nurses' knowledge, attitudes and beliefs around infection control (n=415); 400 nurse-patient visits were observed, and 50 nurses were interviewed about their infection control practices. Nurses reported high compliance with infection control practices. However, the overall average adherence rate to observed hand hygiene practices was 45.6%. Interview data provided valuable insights into specific challenges faced by nurses in a home care setting. This study provides insights that can be used to enhance infection control practice in community care in the UK.

Healthcare-associated infections (HAIs), particularly in patients post-surgery or after an acute care episode, are considered a ‘preventable’ harm and a patient safety issue. HAIs are secondary infections patients may acquire while receiving treatment from health providers. Studies have shown that respiratory infections, wound infections and urinary tract infections are significant contributors to complications post-surgery or after a myocardial infarction, often leading to hospital readmission (Ali and Gibbons 2017; Awolaran et al, 2017; Kwok et al, 2017). Community-acquired infections (CAIs) include the transmission of viruses, bacteria, and parasites outside of the healthcare system. Community nurses frequently care for patients on discharge from hospital, as well as managing the care of an increasingly older and frail population residing in the community, who are also at increased risk of infection (McComiskey, 2017; Higginson, 2018). With the advent of the coronavirus outbreak, there has been an increased focus on infection risk and infection prevention strategies across all facility-based and community-based health care sectors worldwide (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, 2020; Public Health England and NHS, 2020).

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