Implementing Infection Prevention is Everybody's Responsibility

June 3, 2013

By Patricia S. Grant, RN, BSN, MS, CIC

Infection prevention and control (IP&C), as a discipline grounded in implementation science, must simultaneously incorporate research, innovation and experience from academia, industry, and clinical practice to best serve the needs of the patient. As the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) gathers for its 40th Annual Conference this month, it seems an opportune time to reflect on the interdependence of the main players in working toward the vision of healthcare without infection and the role that industry plays in advancing the work of our members.

Before sharing my thoughts on APICs current relationship with industry, I need to take you back to 2004 when APIC had its first Futures Summit with the Strategic Partners, the group of healthcare companies that has made a shared commitment to advancing APICs strategic priorities. It was exciting yet unfamiliar territory as we sat together to discuss the future of infection control as it specifically related to APICs membership. I place infection control in quotes because at that time, this is how we viewed ourselves and promoted our unique skill set. During the second day of presentations and exercises, a Strategic Partner representative observed, You do not do infection control . You do infection prevention and are not taking credit for something you take for granted. You must state that you do not only act in crisis and you are preventive. 

I am embarrassed to say I do not recall who made that path-changing statement; yet, I have never forgotten the statement itself and its impact on how we thought about our work. It took professionals close to us, yet separate from our area of expertise, to see the forest through the trees and state the obvious:  we did much more than help control infections. The point being that there is great scope for professionals from clinical practice, academia, and industry to work together and help each other for the patients benefit.

Each of us, and those we care for, are potential consumers of healthcare so individually we have a personal stake in providing good outcomes.  How best to make good outcomes in healthcare happen?  As infection preventionists* we sometimes may have a conflicted relationship with industry partners. However, industry, academia, research, and infection preventionists no matter how the relationship develops share the mutual goal of wanting to prevent the pain and suffering associated with acquisition of a healthcare-associated infection. 

With these mutual goals in mind, APIC continues to refine how best to leverage the expertise of all content experts through its evolving Strategic Partner Program.  The overriding objective is for APIC to provide educational content that is developed and delivered independently of a specific corporate sponsor; yet, to provide a forum for long-term relationships that are productive so that the mutual goal of patient safety is advanced in a timely fashion. APICs Strategic Partner Program allows for the planning (important yet non-urgent) and development of tools and resources that the individual infection preventionist cannot devote time toward on such a large and effective scale.

If this sounds like a balancing act, you are right on track. APICs staff strives to promote a collaborative approach to promote brainstorming and idea sharing among APIC Strategic Partners and other affiliated organizations. The desired outcome is providing APIC membership with resources that are accessible to all, regardless of primary work location or local resources. The end result provides an equal opportunity for maximum access to APIC resources. The objective is always to secure commitment to education and learning within APICs vision and mission. APIC invites current and potential Strategic Partners to be supportive of APICs mission through activities in service of that mission. The Strategic Partners, along with all APIC industry partners, help provide for the expansion of programming with no strings attached. APIC is appreciative of this support that helps APIC members better serve their patients and communities. 

*Is an inclusive term of any professional that works to prevent the spread of infection regardless of primary discipline (RN, MT, MPH, MD, PhD, RT, LVN, etc.).

Patricia S. Grant, RN, BSN, MS, CIC, is director of infection prevention and quality at Methodist Hospital for Surgery in Addison, Texas and the 2013 president of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC).