Rings and the Spread of Pathogens in a Healthcare Setting
Nurses often have direct contact with their patients. They conduct assessments on more than one patient, and also perform procedures throughout the day. During a twelve hour shift microbes can be spread back in forth between patients, but there are techniques nurses use to lessen the load of microbes transferred. In school nurses are taught that the number one way to prevent the spread of germs and decrease healthcare associated infections is to wash their hands. Many nurses wear rings to work which may make it harder to wash microbes away. Can one achieve the same level of cleanliness from washing their hands with and without a ring? Do nurses who wear rings carry and spread more pathogens than those who do not? There is evidence of nurses wearing rings at hospitals even though, many institutions frown upon jewelry being worn at work. Deborah Jane Ward found in her study that, “61% of clinical staff were wearing inappropriate hand jewelry (wrist watches or stoned rings).” (Ward, 2007, p. 655). According to Ward’s study, “Rings were the only substantial risk factor for carriage of gram- negative bacilli and S. aureus on the hands.” Hand washing is the most important activity in preventing health care associated infections, but when nurses wear rings bacteria can get trapped underneath and around the band or setting of the ring. In a study cited by the article “Impact of Ring Wearing on Hand Contamination and Comparison of Hand Hygiene Agents in a Hospital” it is shown that, “… there was a greater frequency of contamination with any transient organism on hands with rings, despite the method of hand hygiene used; hands with rings were 1.6- fold more likely to be contaminated after hand washing with plain soap and water and 2.3- fold more likely to be contaminated after use of the alcohol- based hand rub.” (Trick et al., 2003, p. 4). Thus, there is a greater amount of pathogens being carried around...
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