One of the notorious B.I.G. topics on nursing boards exam – NCLEX-RN safety and infection control. From washing your hands to patient placement, infection control integrates topics of disease prevention, spread, and maintenance. The NCSBN says that infection control states that between 10%-14% of the questions, but most new grads didn’t take the time to learn the topic thoroughly. Knowing this, what are some of the NEED TO KNOW points from this crucial (and under-studied) topic? Along with a good study plan, and other topics to know for the exam, here’s my guide to NCLEX-RN safety and infection control.
4 Points for NCLEX-RN Safety and Infection Control
#1 Standard Precautions
The first level of infection control in the care of all patients at all the times is standard precautions. Standard precautions is also known as universal precautions. This is the fundamental safeguard that reduces the risk of transmission of microorganisms. Remember – microorganisms can be spread through blood, all body fluids, secretions, and excretions.
The basic personal protective equipment (PPE) used to stop the spread of disease are gowns, masks, and eye protection.
The biggest take away in this section – First line of defense against the transmission of microorganisms and disease – HAND WASHING!
#2 Contact Precautions
Contact precautions prevent the transmission of disease usually skin to skin. Most patients with skin infections will be on contact precautions. The major diseases likely to pop up on the NCLEX-RN are: Herpes simplex, impetigo, scabies, staphylococcus, and varicella zoster. Priority for nurses in this section is that gloves and gown should be worn when working with this patient.
#3 Droplet Precautions
Microorganisms can live in the droplets from secretions, excretions, and body fluids. The most common forms of transmission are through coughing, sneezing, and talking. Remember droplets can travel no more than 3ft so precautions should be maintained when there is a possibility of entering this distance. Gloves, gowns, and eye protection should be worn.
Some of the major diseases that pop up on the NCLEX-RN in this category are: Diphtheria, streptococcal pharyngitis (tonsillitis), some pneumonias, meningitis, mumps, pertussis, and scarlet fever. The priority for nurses working with these patients is patients on droplet precautions need private rooms, always be aware of the 3 ft distance of transmission, and a face mask should be worn when entering the room.
#4 Airborne Precautions
Pathogens that can travel in micro droplets in the air beyond the 3ft distance require airborn precautions. Some of the major diseases in this category commonly found on the NCLEX-RN are measles (aka rubeolla) (which can spread in blood, urine, and micro droplets), chicken pox (varicella), herpes zoster, tuberculosis (TB).
These patients should be given private rooms with negative ventilation to curb the spread of pathogens in the air. Priorities for nurses to remember is that the door should remain closed and a mask should be worn at all times while in the room. A special mask (N95) should be worn when working with a patient with TB.
Memorize these basics, and don’t let crazy questions fool you. Sometimes the questions throw all sorts of information at you to confuse you and cast doubt. Remember these rules and stick to your guns. Don’t branch out into the unknown!
Until next time, adios!