By Sue Barnes, RN, CIC, FAPIC
Surgical site infections (SSIs) are the number one most costly hospital acquired infection (HAI).
According to the CDC, roughly one in every 25 hospitalized patients has at least one healthcare-associated infection (HAI).1 HAIs create significant health risks and cost the healthcare industry billions of dollars each year.
The Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) announces that Stephen Streed, MS, CIC, FAPIC, system director of epidemiology/infection prevention at Lee Health in Fort Myers, Fla, will receive the prestigious
The perspectives of more than 4,000 infection preventionists (IPs) have been captured by the Association of Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) in its MegaSurvey conducted in 2015 to chronicle the progress that the profession is making in developing strategies to support comprehensive infection prevention practice.
The engagement of key organizational senior leaders in infection prevention and control is essential to ensure optimal patient care and to promote quality throughout the healthcare institution. One such stakeholder is the chief nursing officer (CNO), with whom the organization's infection preventionist(s) should cultivate a collegial relationship. As IPs monitor how healthcare workers implement infection prevention and control-related principles and practices, the CNO can help ensuring resource and both clinical and administrative leadership support as the foundation to successfully implement these prevention measures. As Nelson, et al. (2011) observe, "Leaders play a pivotal role in hospital initiatives to improve quality … It is essential for those personnel in leadership to work collaboratively in order to not only enhance healthcare environments but also make it safer for patients."
While not every instance of healthcare-associated infection (HAI) can be pinned on staff hygiene, too many occurrences can be attributed to the very people who are supposed to protect patients. And that is why the reality of insufficient attention to handwashing, PPE donning and doffing, and other areas of infection prevention, remains so baffling. The big question is “why” – why do some staff cut corners when they well know the consequences of not adhering to standard processes for basic hand hygiene and activities such as PPE donning/doffing? The answers vary but often boil down to one simple reality: human nature. People get in a hurry and take the chance that no one is watching them, says Mary Lou Love, MSN, RN, the veteran director of infection control for Doctors Hospital at Renaissance in Edinburg, Texas. For starters, people generally adhere to requirements for a while and then fall back into their old ways. “I think, like anything else, you start off, then get to the point that it is working, and then a couple of months go by,” Love explains. Since infection control – which has limited resources – tends to oversee compliance monitoring on a regular basis people “go back to their habits” without constant enforcement, Love says.
For the purposes of this report, ICT conducted an online survey in which several hundred infection preventionists shared their insights on key issues such as workload, present and future challenges, as well as program needs and areas for improvement. When we asked respondents how they felt about the future of their profession overall, 56 percent said they were excited and optimistic about what can be accomplished, 28 percent said they were feeling neutral and withholding judgment for now, and 16 percent said they felt cautious and/or pessimistic in the face of continued change within the profession and healthcare in general. Eighty-five percent of surveyed IPs say they are confident in their compe-tency as an infection preventionist, while 5 percent were not and 10 percent were unsure. And in terms of enjoying their work, 91 percent of IPs said they were happy in their jobs, while 4 percent said they did not relish their tasks and 6 percent were ambivalent.
The quest to make a hospital an infection-free environment seems never-ending. That’s especially the case as new antibiotic-resistant bugs crop up and as staph and sepsis continue to risk patient lives. The responsibility for addressing these problems does not rest solely on infection preventionists, of course, but there are measures these healthcare professionals can and should implement to better ensure a highly functioning safety of culture.
Results from the APIC MegaSurvey, the largest-ever survey of the infection prevention workforce, describe the core activities and competencies of infection preventionists (IPs).