With increasing public concern over healthcare-associated infections, antibiotic-resistant bacteria and the global spread of these organisms, infectious diseases experts met at the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA) spring training and leadership meeting to review best practices for prevention strategies and steps for broadening the success of these models of care.
Theres a misunderstanding that infection control practices are easy, says Jan Patterson, MD, MS, president of SHEA. We have the evidence that backs up core infection control practices, but without behavior change, science can only accomplish so much.
No matter the bacteria or infection type, SHEA recommends five prevention strategies that should be applied across the board, including:
Improve hand hygiene among healthcare professionals
Use of appropriate isolation precautions for patients known to be colonized with dangerous or drug-resistant organisms like Clostridium difficile or MRSA
Ensure adequate cleaning of the environment and equipment
Remove catheters and other devices promptly
Educate healthcare professionals and patients
These prevention approaches are a part of SHEAs Compendium of Strategies to Prevent Healthcare-Associated Infections, published in 2008 and currently being updated.
The meeting included a leadership forum on antimicrobial stewardship. Antimicrobial stewardship are programs and interventions that help prescribers know when antibiotics are needed and what the best treatment choices are for a particular patient to help improve the use of these drugs. These sessions highlighted the need for increased focus on antimicrobial use and measurement, as well as initiatives that can be implemented in any care setting or size.
We now have improved data to support antimicrobial stewardship from healthcare quality, patient safety and business perspectives, says Neil Fishman, MD, past-president of SHEA and meeting presenter. We hope to expand this scientific support and work to implement these programs in healthcare settings throughout the nation and across the continuum of care.
The meeting culminated with the announcement of the first winner of the SHEA Epi Project, a $20,000 research award aimed at advancing the agenda of healthcare epidemiology research through the SHEA Research Network. Marci Drees, MD, MS, hospital epidemiologist and medical director of infection prevention at Christiana Care Health System in Wilmington, Del., was awarded the inaugural prize for her proposal focusing on defining variability of infection control practices for multi-drug resistant Gram-negative organisms.
Patterson notes, Dr. Drees proposal serves as an excellent example of the direction for future research to help further our understanding and approach to multidrug-resistant organisms.