Aseptic Technique: Review

I took part in the performance of two endoscopy procedures; esophagogastroduodenoscopy or EGD and colonoscopy. The procedures involve the passage of a camera either down the esophagus or into the colon respectively. Endoscopy is a diagnostic and exploratory procedure intended to identify abnormalities which caused the patient to seek medical attention. I was surprised to learn that the procedures are normally performed under aseptic technique and not under sterile conditions. This prompted me to choose an article on aseptic technique so that I could learn more about the technique. This paper will begin with a summary of an article authored by Anne Azizi and published in the British Nursing Journal titled “Variations in aseptic technique and implications for infection control.” It will end in a reflection on my experience.

Healthcare acquired infections (HAI) remain a great challenge to healthcare providers (Aziz, 2009). It is estimated that the United Kingdom spends more than one billion pounds annually on HAIs (Aziz, 2009). It has been reported that healthcare acquired infections cause between 5,000 and 15,000 deaths every year in the United Kingdom (Aziz, 2009). The number of healthcare acquired infections does not appear to decline even with increasing budgetary allocation. The high number of healthcare acquired infections can be partly explained by lack of a unified and standardized aseptic technique (Aziz, 2009). There are a number of different guidelines on aseptic technique. This has led to variation in its application. The aseptic technique in use varies from hospital to hospital and within a hospital. Individual healthcare providers are likely to apply a technique that reflects when, how and where they were trained. Most guidelines list the procedures that can be done under aseptic technique. The guidelines recommend that two nurses should perform a procedure requiring aseptic technique (Aziz, 2009). However, this is no longer possible in most settings owing to staff shortage and increasing number of patients. Therefore, to reduce the burden of HAIs, national healthcare systems and hospitals should adopt a unified and standardized aseptic technique such as the aseptic non-touch technique (ANTT) (Aziz, 2009). In addition, healthcare providers should be trained and assessed on the new standardized technique.

Endoscopy is an invasive procedure that increases the risk for infection. In order to reduce the rates of morbidity and mortality, it is necessary that all invasive procedures be done under aseptic technique. Knowledge of aseptic technique is mandatory for all healthcare practitioners who participate in the execution of invasive procedures. Nurses who are part of the endoscopy team should ensure that patient safety is guaranteed at all times. The information obtained from this article will shape my nursing practice. This is due to the fact that a number of procedures require application of aseptic technique. Correct application of the technique will aid in reducing morbidity and mortality ascribable to HAIs. The article also highlighted the need for nurses and other healthcare providers to be aware of hospital policies on aseptic technique. This aids in the realization of consistent results.

It was an honor to be part of this experience. It has significantly changed the way I view aseptic technique. It was especially satisfying to be a member of the endoscopy team. This brought to my attention the importance of infection control measures in the hospital environment. The experience gave me an opportunity to reflect on the possibility of advancing my career in an area that will allow me to participate in diagnostic and investigative procedures like endoscopy.

Reference

Aziz, A. (2009). Variations in aseptic technique and implications for infection control. British Journal of Nursing, (18)1, 26-31.

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