Thursday, 27 August 2015

Nurses' response to infections in older people

Roger Watson, Editor

Infections can be hard to detect in older people and often masked by other symptoms such as confusion which can have other causes.  In nursing homes untrained nursing assistants (NAs) are often responsible for the direct care of older people yet they may be unable to detect the signs of infection in older people and, therefore, unable to respond appropriately.  In a Swedish study titled: 'Nurses’ actions in response to nursing assistants’ observations of signs and symptoms of infections among nursing home residents' and published in Nursing Open Alleman and Sund-Lavander (2105) the issue of how the response to infection in older people relates to who detects it is investigated.

Using nursing records from 205 nursing home residents it appears that action taken in related to who - in terms of which grade of staff - detects the infection.  When NAs suspect an infection it is more common that no action is taken than when a Registered Nurse detects the infection.  Also, it appears that NAs did not feel always safe in conveying information to Registered Nurses.  In the words of the authors: 'As NAs often initiate episodes of suspected infection by observing changed conditions, it seems important to include the NA in the decision-making process as these observations could detect possible early signs and symptoms of infections.'

Reference

Alleman H, Sund-Levander M (2015) Nurses’ actions in response to nursing assistants’ observations of signs and symptoms of infections among nursing home residents Nursing Open doi: 10.1002/nop2.22

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