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The diversity of infection control

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VOL: 98, ISSUE: 38, PAGE NO: 47

Eileen Shepherd, RGN, DipN

What do we mean when we talk about infection control? It is a subject area that every health care worker should be conversant with yet, unlike so many aspects of care, the results of good infection control practices are difficult to quantify. After all, it is only lapses in efforts to prevent the spread of health-related infections and then measures to control spread that are tangible to the nurse working on the ward.

What do we mean when we talk about infection control? It is a subject area that every health care worker should be conversant with yet, unlike so many aspects of care, the results of good infection control practices are difficult to quantify. After all, it is only lapses in efforts to prevent the spread of health-related infections and then measures to control spread that are tangible to the nurse working on the ward.

When an outbreak of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus occurs on a ward we are often faced with questioning our own clinical skills. It is difficult to admit that you may not wash your hands effectively or often enough, yet a thorough examination of clinical practices can have a positive effect on the spread of health-related infections.

However, my experiences of nursing are largely confined to the acute hospital setting, and it is therefore not surprising that I have had to go through a steep learning curve as the new supplements editor of NTplus Infection Control. I am grateful for the expertise of our editorial advisers and the advice on offer from many ICNA members.

It is difficult to believe that the role of the infection control nurse specialist can range from advising on headlice control or dealing with an outbreak of diarrhoea to the preparation of measures to deal with biological terrorism. While many are involved in the day-to-day management of strategies to reduce infection, these developments are also balanced against the reactive nature of the job, clearly illustrated in the recent outbreaks of legionnaires' disease in Scotland.

The diversity of the subject area and the fact that the prevention of infection is everyone's business makes NTplus Infection Control essential reading for all nurses.

We welcome your input and comments on the supplement and are happy to receive articles, case studies, original research and review papers for consideration for publication. Let us know if there is a subject you feel we need to cover and, most of all, help Nursing Times keep infection control on every nurse's mind.

- The ICNA annual conference takes place from November 18-22 at the English Riviera Centre, Torquay. Its title, 'Time to deliver: putting infection control into practice', conveys the need for an agenda for change and for a time of action. The content of the programme therefore focuses on many of the key issues and problems we face in preventing health care-associated infections. There are a number of hands on and interactive workshops to facilitate experiential learning, together with stimulating presentations from leading experts in particular fields.

This conference is suitable for both experienced and novice infection control practitioners and we would also welcome delegates in education, management and research roles as well as other health care professionals.

Contact the ICNA conference manager, Profile Productions, Northumberland House, 11 The Pavement, London W5 4NG, tel: 020 8832 7311, fax: 020 8832 7301, e-mail: info@profileproductions.com

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