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Lack of cleaning facilities hampers nurses in fight against MRSA and C diff


Nurses are struggling in the battle against healthcare associated infections such as MRSA and C diff because of a lack of proper cleaning facilities, according to a survey.

One in three nurses do not have access to a dedicated room for cleaning hospital equipment, meaning they have to perform this vital task for patients in bathrooms, according to the Royal College of Nursing research.

Findings were based on an ICM survey of 2,000 nurses, commissioned by the RCN, showing that frontline nurses face huge challenges in the every day battle against healthcare associated infections (HCAIs) like MRSA and C diff.

Nearly four out of ten (39%) of nurses said cleaning services are nor provided by their organisation 24 hours a day and almost a quarter (23%) have not had mandatory infection control training in the last year.

More than a fifth (21%) of nurses have to store clean hospital equipment in bathrooms due to limited space and more than a third (34%) of nurses responsible for decontaminating patient equipment have never had any formal training on how perform the task.

RCN chief executive and general secretary, Peter Carter, said: ‘While employers are saying that tackling infection is a high priority, they are not matching it with enough money for nurse training. If we’re going to rid the NHS of these potentially lethal infections, the government needs to make employers set aside enough time and money for nurses to train.’


Readers' comments (4)

  • My grandfather has just died from C.Diff and I knew he had it at least 5 days before the ward staff. Therefore untilthey got a formal diagnosis he was still in a 4 bedded room and not being barrier nursed. Surely he should have been barrier nursed as a precaution from the moment he had loose, foul smelling, bowel movements. As I'm a nurse I knew the potential difficulties but the rest of the family didn't and one member was heavily pregnant. Definitely more education is needed for all ward staff to lessen the chance of an outbreak.

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  • If a Nurse is a Nurse, she will know how to disinfect, how to sterilise, how to prepare instruments for surgical use. A S/S container, steam cleaned along with its contents will serve in any field hospital. What ever is the problem?

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  • Once MRSA or C diff is suspected, then the patient should be immediately put in isolation (gown, gloves. private room with own washroom and strict hand washing before and after entering the room). Anyone entering the room must follow this procedure or it will spread. After the patient is discharged the room must be thoroughly cleaned by trained cleaning staff, not Nursing because they are already overworked by looking after patients. Isn't patient care our responsibility? The hospital should be hiring staff to clean/sterilize, not nurses.
    In our hospital we swab anyone that had been in hospital in the last 6 months or has ever been suspected of having MRSA in the past. If suspected then we isolate the patient.
    C Diff:
    A nurse must become familiar with the characteristics of c diff and know how to spot it. Contact precautions are very important to follow if suspected. Once we send a specimen for c diff our protocol is to isolate until cleared. It is a nasty bug and must be contained and irradiated.
    Nurses should be following strict hand washing procedure, at all times, before and after putting on gloves or touching a patient. Only then will be be able to contain the viruses/organisms.

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  • Hi,
    Not sure whether anyone has yet commented on the fact that premises providing care in the independent sector and regulated under the Care Standards Act cannot remain open without having ALL the appropiate facilities and access to cleaning and disinfection.

    I trust that the evidence from this RCN research project findings has been sent to the various NHS Insepction bodies for the various countries and that they act on these findings immediately.

    I spent 6 days after a major surgery in a university hospital in Wales in 1996 and went through a tortuous complaint process as the ward I was in was filthy and I picked up a serious infection the damage from which resulted in a further repeat operation 6 years later.
    The infectiion control officer, a public health physician, actually accused me of making up all the infections I inherited - until he saw my GP's reports. I was made to feel most embrassed and patronised by the medical officer.

    I have been campaigning long and hard for hospitals to be inspected - just like anywhere else. However, the inspection process has to be rigorous and effective and the culprits of this neglect found and made accountable.
    All nurses as well as doctors and other health care professionals have a code of conduct and they are ALL accountable if such situations of neglect exist and persist.

    Look at Mid Staffs hospital Foundation Trust situation. Who will be made accountable for that situation? Are the staff who were happy to ignore the various conditions of neglect still working there?

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