Shortage of Nursing Staff causes HAIs

Hospital acquired infections (HAIs) are a serious but often preventable problem resulting in high morbidity and mortality and increased healthcare costs. HAIs add financial burden to patients & also have psychological and social consequences for patients such as depression, anxiety, disability, long hospital stay and job loss. Highlighting the issue on the second day of 46th annual conference of the Indian Association of Medical Microbiologists (MICROCON-2023) at the King George’s Medical University (KGMU), doctors said that the country has just one Infection Control Nurse (ICN) per 1,000 beds, as compared to the WHO recommendation of one ICN on every 100 beds.

Urinary tract infection, infections from body fluids, surgical site infections, Pneumonia are on the rise which needs to be controlled. For HAIs patients are required to pay, and will have a long hospital stay. Prof Purva Mathur, a faculty member at the microbiology department of AIIMS, New Delhi highlighted that trained, qualified and quality nursing staff are the need of the hour.

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Severe shortage of trained nursing staff, which includes Infection Control Nurses (ICNs), is a major reason for Hospital Acquired Infections (HAI). Indian hospitals have just one ICN per 1,000 beds, which is far below the WHO recommendation of one ICN per 100 beds. ICNs play a decisive role in executing infection prevention and control (IPC) measures in hospitals.

ICNs monitor efficiency of disinfectants, track infection rates, and identify antimicrobial resistance patterns. It is the responsibility of ICNs to extend education and training to staff and patients’ attendants to control infections. Simple practices of frequent hand wash, use of gloves & masks, isolating patients/relatives who have cough, cold, fever, disinfect surfaces, minimising  number of visitors, proper high standard sterilisation of instruments,  Maintaining a safe, clean, hygienic hospital environment can have a long way in reducing HAIs .

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