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Should registered nurses have their aseptic technique competency regularly reviewed?

  • Comments (4)

Key points

  1. The Health and Social Care Act (2008) requires healthcare providers to have a standardised aspetic technique in which education and audit can be demonstrated
  2. Aseptic technique represents the last line of defence for patients from microorganisms during invasive clinical procedures
  3. Aseptic Non Touch Technique is the de facto standard aseptic technique in the UK
  4. Safe aseptic technique relies on effective staff training, safe environments and equipment that is fit for purpose
  5. Basic infection prevention precautions, such as effective hand hygiene and glove usage also help to ensure asepsis

Let’s discuss

  • What does the term “aseptic technique” mean?
  • Why is non-touch technique important?
  • How can you achieve a standardised approach to aseptic technique in your trust?
  • Should registered nurses have their competency to carry out this procedure reviewed regularly?

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  • Comments (4)

Readers' comments (4)

  • Hi,
    I'm a pharmacy technician working in an NHS hospital. I train all new student technicians and student pharmacists in the art of Aseptic manipulation and in my opinion all nurses should have regular compentency training in aseptic manipulation. Working in pharmacy all trained aseptic technicians and pharmacists have to go through scheduled broth transfer validation exercises to show competency in this area. Why should nurses be any different? In my experience i've seen some extremely dodgy techniques being demomstrated at ward level by qualified nurses and regular competency checks would help. I would even go as far to say that pharmacy should lead this as we have far more experience in the area.
    regards craig

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  • Anonymous

    This has recently been put on our mandatory study days. I think a lot more basic principals should be made mandatory. It's not just nurses that need this, but everyone who would have patient contact. It's basic and that's where we need to go with a lot of principals in hospital. Back to basics!!!

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  • Andrew Kingsley

    I am all for aseptic technique - but we do need to be realistic because it is not a single rigid procedure - in reality it is a set of principles that must be applied in different situations to achieve the best infection control that can reasonably be achieved relative to the work and circumstances presented - there is a host of difference between the work in an aseptic suite in a pharmacy, prosthetic surgery under laminar airflow control and total body exhaust systems, bowel surgery under standard theatre ventilation, a primarily closed surgical wound that has to be redressed in the first 24 hours post surgery, a dehisced wound broken down because of infection, a pressure ulcer on the sacrum contaminated by faeces, a leg ulcer in the community, manipulating an IV line on a ward or inserting a central line in ICU - all these procedures require an aseptic technique yes but the application will differ - aseptic technique is a spectrum or continuum of techniques which you must choose from - however we tackle this it is my belief that we must end up with principle and evidence driven nurses capable of adaption and not a return to a rigid procedure that is not fit for every purpose.

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  • Martyn Butcher

    I agree with Andrew's comments but also see where Craig is coming from. There are undoubtedly different approaches required for different situations; I would hope for instance that the preparation of IV fluids would be undertaken in strictly controlled environments with rigid aseptic procedures as the risk to a patient of delivering contaminated fluid directly into a patients bloodstream is so great. However, when treating a chronic wound we are working in an already bacterially colonised environment.
    But I do see where Craig is going - I too have witness what can only be described as "septic procedures" among staff (medical/nursing and paramedical) when managing wounds. All too frequently clinicians are not brought to task when their actions put patients at risk.
    When I think back to my training I smile when I think of all the time and effort I spent learning how to clean my dressing trolley the "right way" and yet in over 30 years of practice I have never actually dressed a wound with a stainless steel trolley, simply used it to provide a work surface. Procedures have to be realistic to the environment in which they are undertaken and the needs and risks of our client groups. However that does not give us a "get-out" for poor and/or sloppy practice.

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