n Southern African Journal of Critical Care - Nosocomial infection in South African intensive care units : editorial

Volume 26, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1562-8264
  • E-ISSN: 2078-676X



This issue of SAJCC presents three original articles from South African researchers. Two of these look at the increasing problem of nosocomial infection in intensive care units. This is an area of increasing public awareness, given the recent publicity on deaths of six neonates from nosocomial infection in a major teaching hospital. Nosocomial infections are more likely to occur in patients with neurological impairment, increased therapeutic intervention and prior antibiotic administration. Hand disinfection before and after every patient contact is clearly vital and difficult to achieve in units where there is not a one-to-one nurse-to-patient ratio, as is the case in some state hospital intensive care units. In this issue, Kindness and Brysiewicz evaluate the knowledge and implementation by nurses of a new infection control protocol in a cardiothoracic ICU. They show that while knowledge and compliance improved the results were not ideal, although infection rates appeared to decrease. The point is that it is not enough to impose stricter infection control measures. Staff members should be involved in the development of new protocols so that they come to 'own the process'. As this paper demonstrates, it is crucial to measure the outcome of newly implemented strategies so that further changes can be made if necessary.

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