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Posted: January 14th, 2020

Improving Adherence to Isolation Precautions

Improving Adherence to Isolation Precautions

Isolation precautions are a set of measures that aim to prevent the transmission of infectious agents from patients to health care workers, other patients, and visitors. They are based on the mode of transmission of the infection, such as contact, droplet, airborne, or a combination of these. Isolation precautions are essential to protect patients and health care workers from nosocomial infections, which are infections acquired in health care settings.

However, adherence to isolation precautions is often suboptimal among health care workers. According to a systematic review by Gammon et al. (2017), the average adherence rate was 43%, ranging from 2.9% to 100% across 96 studies. The low adherence rate can be attributed to various factors, such as lack of knowledge, lack of resources, lack of time, lack of feedback, and conflicting priorities. These factors can negatively affect the quality and safety of patient care, as well as the health and well-being of health care workers.

Therefore, it is important to identify and implement effective strategies to improve adherence to isolation precautions among health care workers. Some of the strategies that have been proposed and evaluated in the literature are:

– Education and training: Providing health care workers with clear and updated information on the rationale, indications, and procedures of isolation precautions can enhance their knowledge and skills, as well as their motivation and confidence to comply with them. Education and training can be delivered through various methods, such as lectures, workshops, online modules, videos, posters, or leaflets. A meta-analysis by Chen et al. (2018) found that education and training interventions significantly improved adherence to isolation precautions by 21%.

– Feedback and reminders: Providing health care workers with timely and specific feedback on their performance and compliance with isolation precautions can reinforce positive behaviors and correct negative ones. Feedback can be given through various methods, such as audits, reports, charts, or verbal comments. Reminders can also be used to prompt health care workers to follow isolation precautions at the point of care. Reminders can be given through various methods, such as signs, stickers, badges, or alerts. A meta-analysis by Chen et al. (2018) found that feedback and reminders interventions significantly improved adherence to isolation precautions by 29%.

– Supportive environment: Providing health care workers with adequate and accessible resources and equipment to implement isolation precautions can reduce barriers and facilitate compliance. Resources and equipment include personal protective equipment (PPE), hand hygiene products, waste disposal containers, isolation rooms or areas, or dedicated staff or teams. A systematic review by Mitchell et al. (2017) found that supportive environment interventions improved adherence to isolation precautions by 11% to 54%.

– Organizational culture: Fostering a positive and supportive organizational culture that values and promotes infection prevention and control can influence the attitudes and behaviors of health care workers towards isolation precautions. Organizational culture can be shaped by various factors, such as leadership, policies, protocols, incentives, or sanctions. A systematic review by Mitchell et al. (2017) found that organizational culture interventions improved adherence to isolation precautions by 9% to 63%.

In conclusion, improving adherence to isolation precautions among health care workers is a complex and multifaceted challenge that requires a comprehensive and tailored approach. A combination of strategies that address the individual, interpersonal, organizational, and environmental factors that influence adherence may be more effective than single interventions. Further research is needed to evaluate the long-term effects and cost-effectiveness of these strategies.

Works Cited

Chen Y., Zou J., Xie J., Wang S., Wei C., Zhang Z., Zhang J., Zhang L., Li Y., Yang X., & Liu G. (2018). Interventions for improving nurses’ compliance with standard precautions: A meta-analysis and systematic review. International Journal of Nursing Studies 86: 67-77.

Gammon J., Morgan-Samuel H., & Gould D. (2017). A review of the evidence for suboptimal compliance of healthcare practitioners to standard/universal infection control precautions. Journal of Clinical Nursing 27(1-2): e77-e94.

Mitchell B.G., White N., Farrington A., Allen M., Page K., Gardner A., Halton K., Riley T.V., Gericke C.A., Paterson D.L., Graves N., & Hall L. (2017). Changes in knowledge and attitudes of hospital environmental services staff: The Researching Effective Approaches to Cleaning in Hospitals (REACH) study. American Journal of Infection Control 45(5): 471-479.


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