1. Cohen, Shelley RN, BS, CEN


Positive reinforcement and a sense of self-motivation are important factors in helping your staff follow an infection control plan.


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With the help of the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) and numerous nursing organizations, managers can identify areas of risk related to nursing practice, disease, and injury.


Ensuring that staff members consistently apply facility infection control (IC) policies and procedures may seem straightforward, but it presents quite a challenge since you can't always be present physically. If you want staff to follow IC policies and procedures, give them a good reason to be motivated to do so. In the world of leadership, we call this evidence-based practice. Staff refer to it as, "Why should I?"


The protection factor

In most cases, motivation certainly doesn't come from facility policy or OSHA standards. A sense of self-motivation must exist, that is, a need to protect oneself from potential risk. Motivation also comes from a desire to avoid transmitting diseases to family members and loved ones. Coach staff to realize the importance of complying with OSHA standards and facility policy by educating them on the realities of these potential risks and the systems or equipment in place to minimize them.


The OSHA Web site,, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Web site,, offer resources that can assist you in developing informational flyers and posters. Does your staff know the current statistics on needlestick injuries among health care workers? Are they aware of the effectiveness of needleless delivery systems? Familiarity with this type of data helps staff understand the importance of instituting IC measures such as frequent hand washing and wearing gloves when starting an I.V. Perhaps your facility has conducted a review to determine the number of needlesticks reported prior to instituting a needleless system. Compare this information with current data to validate the effectiveness of this major change in medication and fluid delivery.


Positive reinforcement

The health care delivery team has a lot on its mind: medication errors, customer service, evidence-based practices, maintaining a current knowledge base, and meeting the challenge of increased workloads that don't include more staff. When you're trying to meet all of the needs of your patients and their families, along with the expectations of the medical staff and an organization, taking time to wash your hands again or to put gloves on to draw blood doesn't appear so important at that moment. As managers, work toward making the decision that minimizes disease risk at the most important moment for staff.


Let staff members know you care about their health and the health of their loved ones. Inquire on a regular basis to ensure that they have the resources they need to protect themselves from transmittable diseases. Remember the phrase, "Catch them doing something good"? Emphasize positive reinforcement; praise and reward staff members when you see them complying with IC standards. When you send a message that you really care about staff members' well-being and that of their families, they become motivated and will never forget how you made them feel.