Standard Precautions – Translating Knowledge into Practice

Helen Lorenz 1, Rachael Court 1, Marija Juraja 1

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Woodville South, SA, Australia


With the increasing burden of patients with Multi Resistant Organisms (MRO), staff must consistently practice Standard Precautions (SP) for the protection of patients and themselves. As any patient may have an undetected colonisation or infection with a significant organism, SP needs to be an embedded practice. A “Standard Precautions Quiz” and an audit of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) availability across the wards of a metropolitan hospital showed that improvement was needed.

Scenario training and information handouts were utilised for education. Nurses were encouraged to think about indications for PPE, especially the use of face protection. The pamphlet “Standard Precautions, a Guide for Health Care Workers”, was distributed when auditing staff knowledge – providing ‘on the spot’ education. Ward managers were asked to set up PPE stations to include all required items and to add SP door signs as the default for all patient rooms.

All areas of SP identified as a concern showed an improvement post intervention. Staff knowledge of SP increased, PPE availability increased, particularly PPE items needed to prevent splash exposures, and SP signs became the default signage for all patient rooms.

Translating knowledge into practice requires improving knowledge and understanding to facilitate desired behaviours. By evaluating work flows and removing barriers desired changes to practice and behaviour is achievable. Appropriate use of PPE depends on readily accessible supplies and an understanding that PPE can be used any time there is a risk of blood and body fluid exposure or contamination of the environment.

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