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PICO Question: Aseptic Technique
Stephanie Olson
Ferris State University




The purpose of this paper is to examine the research findings that support nurses/health care
professionals using aseptic technique versus only using hand washing to prevent hospital
acquired infections. Current nursing research findings will be discussed, as well as
recommendations to help improve the quality and safety for those directly involved. Finally
what nurses/health care professionals can do to help promote aseptic technique throughout
their hospital will be discuss.



PICO Question: Aseptic Technique
Hospital acquired infections are becoming more common throughout the health care
field as years go on. Not only nurses but other health care professionals are skipping vital steps
in order to not only protect themselves but other patients from infections that they may get
from other patients. Most people believe that by only washing their hands this would be
enough protection. However this is not true; one must consider the patients who are in
isolation or when doing a certain procedure, certain precautions need to take place. This is why
aseptic techniques are the most effective way to prevent hospital acquired infections, than just
washing hands.
PICO Question
The purpose of my paper is to look at how does aseptic work practices compared to only
washing hands prevent hospital acquired infections during the patient’s stay? Hand washing is
very important for the nurse and the patient to part take in; however it is not the only way to
help prevention against infections that can be obtain at the hospital, especially in critical care
settings. For example making sure to know which patients are in isolation and following those
guidelines is important, for example if a patient has MRSA in their sputum you would want to
wear a mask, gown, and gloves to in order to protect yourself and other patients. This is why
making sure you are not repeatedly going in and out of that room is important, as a nurse you
would want to group your work together so you do not have to waste material for something
you could have done earlier, also it decreases your chances of getting MRSA on you and
carrying it to other patients.



Another way aseptic technique works better than just washing is, pertains to when the
nurse is changing central line dressings which is often seen throughout the critical care setting.
When looking at this practice it is often forgotten to have the patient wear a mask when
changing the dressing, and explaining to them that this helps before any aerosol material from
getting into their blood stream, which can also cause infections. These are just a couple of
examples of how aseptic techniques can help prevent hospital acquired infections (HAIs).
In order to prevent HAIs the nurse should take part and be the leader when it comes to
promoting aseptic techniques and promote how every health care professional can help
prevent these infections. Being the nurse in the critical care unit or any unit, you should be the
one educating fellow employees about the importance of wearing a mask, gown, or gloves
when appropriate. Also educating the patient and family members about why we have the
patient in isolation is another factor that helps prevent HAIs from occurring. Though it is
important for patients, other nurses/doctors, and families to be educated on this information it
is also important if people in management are also educated so that they can help spread the
word of how a hospital can prevent HAIs. If we work as a team to accomplish this then
hopefully the rate of infections will decrease and other hospitals will take part to decrease
infections in their hospital as well.
Research Findings
“HAIs in US hospitals account for an estimated two million infections and 90,000 deaths
annually with an estimated cost of $20 billion” (Kastango, 2009). Many of these HAIs which can
later cause deaths are related to urinary tract infections, surgical site infections, pneumonias,
and bloodstream infections. Each of which can be prevented if everyone followed aseptic



techniques when taking care of these patients. “Aseptic technique can be defined as a set of
specific work practices and procedures performed under controlled conditions with the goal of
minimizing the introduction of contamination” (Kastango, 2009). Knowing this health care
professional can impact the reduction of HAIs in three different ways which is stated by
Kastango (2009):
1. Use proper aseptic technique when preparing compounded sterile
preparations (CSPs).
2. Work with other health care professionals (i.e., nurse, nurse anesthetists,
and physicians) to establish proper aseptic technique for CSP preparation
in other patient care areas.
3. Actively participate on the Infection Control Committee, including
reporting, monitoring, and improving compliance with hospital-accepted
quality indicators.
These are three very important details that can help prevent against HAIs, and ones that each
medical professional should take seriously and integrate into their practice. For example when
inserting a foley catheter, the use of sterile preparations is important to help decrease UTIs in
the patient. When someone is inserting a PICC or central line into a patient not only should they
follow proper aseptic/sterile technique but everyone who is in the room should as well; such as
wearing masks, gloves, hats and gowns; and that everyone who is needed in the room wears
this attire. However it is everyone’s job that if a person is in the room that is not needed that



they step out to help decrease the risk of contamination which will decrease the chance of
Microorganisms can cause HAIs in the clinical environment because health care
professionals are not taking the proper precautions needed in order to protect their patient.
For instance according to Rowley, (2011), “The ineffective cleaning of IV ports, ineffective hand
hygiene, and confused and inaccurate application of terms “sterile”, “aseptic” and “clean” can
all cause infections. This is why the Aseptic Non Touch Technique (ANTT) model is the standard
aseptic technique in the UK. According to Rowley (2011), the “ANTT improves aseptic practice
through standardization in two ways”
1. The practice framework, which provides a robust set of rules to teach
safe and efficient aseptic technique and dispels the myths and rituals that
have confused and complicated practice.
2. The widespread use of ANTT guidelines for common clinical procedures in
both hospital and community settings. Designed as visible practice
prompts displayed in clinical areas, the rationalized equipment choices
and explicit sequencing act to “prescribe out” variable practice.
By using the ANTT, hospitals can set forth rules for each unit that will help prevent HAIs. One
particular advantage of the ANTT is that enables a routine day-to-day level of peer monitoring
of practice standards. However more research needs to be done about the ANTT to see how
each hospital can use it, and if it would be effective enough to help prevent HAIs.



Prevention and management of infections in the critical care unit especially is the
responsibility of all staff members. “Health and social care settings can provide a challenging
environment in which to manage risks associated with the transfer of micro-organisms from
patient to patient or between the environment, equipment, staff and patients” (Evans, et. al.,
2012). Sometimes it is a challenge to prevent the spread of infections but it is also the little
things we over look that can impact how our patient recoveries. Such as hand hygiene can be a
contributor, which is a part of aseptic technique. Nurses need to make sure to keep their nails
short and cleaned properly, and not to wear artificial nails because this can trap microorganisms and carry it from person to person. Evans, et. al., (2012), has stated the following
principles that should be applied in all cases when caring for a patient
1. Ensure the area where the procedure is to take place is as clean as possible
2. Ensure as little disturbance as possible occurs during the procedure which
could cause air turbulence and the distribution of dust – for example, bed
making, floor sweeping or buffing, estates work
3. Perform hand hygiene prior to and during the procedure as required
4. Reduce contamination of the vulnerable site by using forceps or sterile
gloves and by not touching sterile parts of the equipment (the non-touch
It is clear that aseptic technique is very important throughout the nursing career, and making
sure we do not spread infections is of vital importance. Overall as nurses we need to make sure
that not only ourselves but other hospital staff members are following aseptic techniques when



being in personal contact with the patient. Following these simple guidelines is not very hard,
but often times forgotten and we need to as a team make overall better choices for our
Recommendations to Improve Quality and Safety
Aseptic technique is clearly important throughout the hospital, whether it is used during
surgery, in critical care settings or in the general medical surgical setting; all medical staff need
to be educated on this valued technique. One of the ways hospitals can help prevent infections
is by giving staff proper training on aseptic techniques. Having Infection Control Committees
that help break the spread of infections is also important; they can make sure that the staff has
the proper tools such as gowns, gloves, masks, hats, when performing certain procedures or
while taking care of a patient who is in isolation. As stated throughout it is important that
nurses also educate family members and patients about the importance of breaking the chain
of spreading infection. While being in the critical care unit especially, staff should limit visitors
as best they can in order to decrease the spread of the infections as well.
Hand hygiene alone does not only prevent against HAIs but if used with aseptic
techniques it helps prevent against them. So it is still important that we educate about hand
hygiene and that we maintain hand hygiene in our own practice.
Nurses also need to maintain the theory that scrubbing the hubs of IV tubing for 10
seconds with alcohol wipes is another way to prevent infections. Sometimes alcohol wipes are
unavailable or they are forgotten in the medication room, so I believe that it is important that
we keep some in every patient’s room. However this could become a problem if a patient is in
isolation, because then when the patient is discharged or moved to another floor these will be



seen as contaminated. In order to possibly prevent from throwing away unused alcohol wipes;
a nurse could designate an area where a small amount of alcohol wipes are kept in the room
and when that pile is low and the patient is going to be in that room for a few more days then
the nurse should be able to add more.
In conclusion aseptic technique is clearly the most effective way to stop the spread of
hospital acquired infections. Hand washing is a part of this technique and only help decrease
the spread of infection throughout the hospital. Anyone who works in the medical care field
needs to be thoroughly educated on this and work together to help protect not only ourselves
but our patients as well. Finally I believe that more research will be further advanced and
continue to show how aseptic technique works and stops infections from occurring.



Evans, L., Sunley, K., Gallagher, R., Barrett, S., (2012). Essential practice for infection prevention
and control: Guidance for nursing staff. Retrieved from
Kastango, E. (2009). Spread the word: Aseptic technique prevents infection. Hospital Acquired
Infections. Retrieved from
Rowley, S. (2011). ANTT: a standard approach to aseptic technique. Nursing Times; 107(36).
Retrieved from