Researchers Find Lack of Robust Evidence on Infection Control Link Nurses in Acute-Care Hospitals

Involving link nurses in infection prevention and control is a strategy to improve clinical practice that has been implemented in hospitals worldwide. However, little is known about the use, the range and benefits of this strategy. Dekker, et al. (2019) aimed to identify key concepts of infection control link nurses (ICLN) and ICLN programs, to evaluate the effect of such programs, and to identify gaps in the evidence base.

In a scoping review, the researchers searched PubMed, CINAHL, Google and Google Scholar for manuscripts on ICLN in acute care hospitals. We included research- and opinion-based papers, abstracts, reports and guidelines.

They included 29 publications and identified three key concepts: the profile of ICLN, strategies to support ICLN, and the implementation of ICLN programs. The majority of included studies delineates the ICLN profile with accompanying roles, tasks and strategies to support ICLN, without a thorough evaluation of the implementation process or effects. Few studies report on the effect of ICLN programs in terms of patient outcomes or guideline adherence, with positive short term effects.

The researchers say their scoping review reveals a lack of robust evidence on the effectiveness of ICLN programs. Current best practice for an ICLN program includes a clear description of the ICLN profile, education on infection prevention topics as well as training in implementation skills, and support from the management at the ward and hospital level. Future research is needed to evaluate the effects of ICLN on clinical practice and to further develop ICLN programs for maximal impact.

Reference: Dekker M, et al. Infection control link nurses in acute care hospitals: a scoping review. Antimicrobial Resistance & Infection Control.2019;8:20