This site is intended for healthcare professionals only

COVID-19 has shown how important language is for effective infection prevention

Written by: | Published:

COVID-19 highlighted confusion in IPC guidance COVID-19 highlighted confusion in IPC guidance

The pandemic highlighted some of the confusion that exists around infection prevention guidance, a report by the RCN has found.

The RCN has published Raising the Bar, a new infection prevention and control (IPC) publication. It investigates the history and language used to support current UK IPC guidance and policies to support RCN members implementing IPC practice in an effective and sustainable way.

To read more about this subject, visit:

Examples of confusing language include indications for the use of face coverings, such as what type to use and when to wear them, were found to be inconsistent, which has the potential to cause issues in the level of PPE provided to staff.

There were also unhelpful differences in how the spread of COVID-19 was described, including the continuing use of the terms ‘droplet’ and ‘airborne’. This resulted in conflicting opinions on the use of PPE, especially respiratory protection.

‘The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted just how important language and guidelines are for the effective application of infection prevention and control when delivering care,’ said Rose Gallagher, RCN Professional Lead for Infection Prevention and Control.

‘They are at the heart of protecting patients and breaking the chain of infection.’

The RCN is recommending that the implementation of updated IPC guidelines should be monitored, and findings should be reported to trust and health boards to ensure standards improve and consistency is in place between different organisations. The organisation is also calling for all organisations delivering health care in the UK to carry out routine audits of hand hygiene adherence that include glove use.

‘Our review of the foundation principles of infection prevention found that there is a wide range of international and national guidelines available,’ added Ms Gallagher.

‘However, now is the time to implement learning from the pandemic and ensure language is consistent in existing and new guidance.’

What do you think? Leave a comment below or tweet your views to @IndyNurseMag

This material is protected by MA Healthcare Ltd copyright.
See Terms and Conditions.



Please view our Terms and Conditions before leaving a comment.

Change the CAPTCHA codeSpeak the CAPTCHA code

Read a free issue from Practice Nursing

Register to read a free issue from our sister publication, Practice Nursing.

Including articles on asthma, diabetes and more. Read your copy.


Sign up to the newsletter


Independent Nurse is the professional resource for primary care and community nurses, providing clinical articles for practice nurses and prescribers.


Subscribe to our newsletter and stay up to date with the latest nursing news.

Stay Connected

Stay social with Independent Nurse by following us on Twitter, liking us on Facebook or connecting on LinkedIn.


Need access to some of our older articles? You can view our archive, or alternatively contact us.

Contact Us

MA Healthcare Ltd.
St Jude's Church, Dulwich Road
London, SE24 0PB

Tel: +44 (0)20 7738 5454
Registered in England and Wales No. 01878373

Meet the team


Find out how to contribute to Independent Nurse here.