Infection preventions across the United States and the world converge at the annual APIC conference to learn the newest information on IPC. Read this article on who else should go to learn how to prevent and control infections.
Shrewd health care leaders strive to navigate the cognitive atmosphere saturated with speculative views related to health care, whether regarding masking mandates, the source of certain communicable diseases like COVID-19, or conjecture associated with vaccination. One place for all individuals involved in infection control and prevention to learn more about infection prevention and control best practices and new takeaways is at the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC)
conferences, nationally1 and regionally.2
Organizations like APIC provide an array of training specifically tailored to advance infection control measures by disseminating material that assists health care workers, which consequentially impacts service delivery.
APIC membership includes practitioners and scientists dedicated to delivering the latest empirical research in conjunction with seminal and present-day best practices. Its persistence is driven by the ability to stimulate and improve the value of health care through the management of infection control processes and the application of epidemiology, irrespective of milieu.
Not only is APIC valuable to the infection preventionist (IP), but APIC also has resources that can influence critical financial and operational decisions as department directors and C-suite leaders become aware of evolving critical issues through continuing interprofessional education.
Leaders struggling to move the needle on quality, advance proficiency, and remain fiscally viable amid the pathological tension can reassess conventional management methods to maintain effective teams. This aim can foster professional development in areas that complement their establishments’ specializations. Attending the APIC conferences will provide attendees with a synthesis of the core principles of infection prevention that cut across approaches, thereby widening one’s scope of awareness in the industry.
Others who would benefit from attending the conferences include hospital chief operating officers who lead health facilities that deliver critical health care services while addressing the many issues affecting that industry, as well as chief nursing officers, chief financial officers, and departmental directors (engineers, environmental services [EVS] managers, nursing supervisors, etc) who are institutional management’s streamliners. Their leadership decisions are driven by accepted best practices to optimize systems that drive superior results. By learning those best practices, they are better guided to make the best decisions for their facilities. For example, health care leaders can participate in tabletop exercises at the APIC 2023 Annual Conference & Exposition (APIC 2023) in Orlando, Florida,1 in response to Candida auris, the drug-resistant fungus branded as an urgent danger by the CDC. Tabletop drills aim to mimic a plan of action through a pretend outbreak scenario based on an actual C auris outbreak.
In addition to fighting pathogens, front-liners must deal with congested emergency departments and delayed diagnoses that continue to pose risks to health care personnel. Anxiety can become the default position among those exposed to life-threatening situations. Inevitably, staffing deficits have become a reality in every health care department, including in-house IPs and quality managers similarly obstructed by disease and burnout.
Additionally, senior health care leaders skilled at organizational development but needing a medical practitioner background must be competent enough to manage the density of resources to recover the health of their patients and provide a reasonably safe environment for health care workers. High-ranking health care leaders should also be proficient at evaluating suitable candidates for critical positions. APIC 2023 will feature an exhibition analyzing the qualifications of an IP.
Diversifying information resources
Information distribution is bolstered by relying on a conglomerate of professionals who can sort through myriads of data and apply solutions to help senior health care leaders avoid an epidemiological stalemate related to the well-being of staff and patients. COVID-19 has tested the resilience of our modern management approaches, which may warrant restructuring guidance that involves an incorporative scheme of knowledge allocation.
Health care support providers such as environmental service specialists are crucial to operations. A health care facility can be sustained only with housekeeping professionals’ essential services, whose primary function is to clean and disinfect surfaces contaminated by patients colonized or infected with health care–associated pathogens. EVS personnel can benefit from a national conference by learning from seasoned experts regarding hospital-grade disinfectants, their compatibility with biomedical equipment, compound efficacy, and the complex methodologies involved in product registration and market release.
Infection prevention that integrates EVS can be called the immune system of the health care environment. Its activity affects every sector of hospital operations and is a joint effort because several subtle factors contribute to microbial propagation, which could result in financial and operational consequences.
It is conventional practice for the infection prevention officer and the EVS director to function in distinct roles similar to how our immune system is designed with innate and acquired immunity. And both types of leaders learning from the APIC conferences will be better able to share ideas and best practices because they come from the same informational background.
The infection prevention officer often operates from a nursing background with supplementary training in cleaning and disinfection. EVS workers seldom bring nursing experience to the table but enjoy a rich heritage of infection prevention as some of America’s earliest hospitals depended on the services of the head hospital housekeeper (now designated as an EVS director) tasked with everything from bookkeeping to facilities management.3
The IP’s role also includes overseeing policy development and practice that reduce or eliminate nosocomial infections. A beautifully tailored program will enhance and enforce control measures that disrupt the traditional transmission routes of pathogenic viruses, bacteria, and fungi. This includes hardwiring habits among health care personnel where safe practices through staff engagement form a constant (innate) barrier to infectious voyage.
The EVS director manages the cleaning, sanitation, and disinfection of the health care facility and does not always have interdepartmental enforcement privileges but applies cleaning and disinfection processes that confront specific morbific introductions.
Health care EVS directors may spring from various occupational backgrounds, but contemporary professional development (continuing education) must rejoin the fundamentals of infection control. EVS managers should understand the basics of disease transmission (epidemiology) to effectively achieve communicable reduction or microbial purging.
Although EVS managers must know about the disinfection process, which involves killing, inactivating, and inhibiting microorganisms, there should be advanced knowledge of how antimicrobial elements counteract elusive microbial invaders. Various species of microorganisms can resist biocides and it is vital to be aware of a disinfectant’s spectrum of activity related to specific diseases. Misinformation and the misuse of compounds can protract patient recovery, produce additional complications, or serve as a cause of death.
By working together and with the same knowledge base, such as from APIC conferences, the 2 leaders can better prepare their facility for the battle ahead.
Multidisciplinary coalitions through divisional conduits and partnerships
An education in infection control and prevention, whether through the state-level office of infection prevention or quality education department or from the APIC conferences, can position health care personnel to engage in their profession in a new way. Hospitals could reduce their vulnerability and promote an effective risk reduction program by incorporating multidisciplinary alliances to sustain and advance quality improvement in infection control.
Some health care institutions have outsourced their support divisions, leaving contractors to bear the burden of operations, research, and development. This approach minimizes the impairment of routine hospital functioning because well-established health care support providers often bring expertise and can devote the time and funding to advance core operations to remain competitive in their specialty.
The information technology (IT) department is a perfect example of knowledge sharing and functional awareness. All health care workers must reach a practical level of technological competency to send emails, identify phishing scams, operate portable devices, and preserve hardware. Through routine learning, the IT department has streamlined the rudimentary ability across the board, resulting in ordinary work function while remaining active in monitoring for upgrades and evolving threats.
The continuous threat of infectious proliferation resulting in health care–associated illnesses warrants a systems-level paradigm that should include all top management levels. The tactic can assist in driving cultural shift through staff engagement by distinguishing fact from fiction and frustrating the ability of misinformation to disrupt public health, staff wellness, and quality patient outcomes.
1. APIC 2023 Annual Conference & Exposition. Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology. Accessed May 4, 2023. https://annual.apic.org/
2. Chapter website listing. Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology. Accessed May 4, 2023. https://apic.org/member-services/chapters/chapter-website-listing/
3. Aikens CA. Hospital Housekeeping. FB &C Ltd, Dalton House; 1906.