Communication Is Key in Controlling Isolation Precautions in Ambulatory Settings


Infection preventionists should take an active role supporting ambulatory partners to help them follow infection prevention and control practices.

Controlling isolation precautions can prove to be complex when moving patients. Therefore, how can infection preventionists (IPs) assist ambulatory partners manage transmission-based precautions when the partners often have competing priorities? Some solutions were described on a poster presented by Gladys Martinez, MPH, CIC, Infection Preventionist II, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, Ohio, at the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) 2022 Annual Conference, held June 13-15, 2022, in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Infection Control Today® (ICT®) spoke with Martinez about her poster titled “Management of Isolation Precautions in Ambulatory Care Settings.”

Infection Control Today® (ICT®): Please give us a brief description of your poster presentation.

Gladys Martinez, MPH, CIC: My presentation is “Management of Isolation Precautions in the Ambulatory Setting.” What we were looking out to do is to help support our ambulatory partners and being able to manage the transmission-based precautions, which at times can be a little bit complex, or can be a little bit difficult to manage, especially since they might be having competing activities at the time while they're in clinic. Since we ultimately as infection preventionists are the true experts behind the transmission-based precautions and, helping [isolations] get removed, we found--and we sought to find--a process that would be able to be sustainable and manageable without over-exhausting our own resources. And we did that by both collaborating with clinics and identifying reports that we run.

ICT®: What do you hope that the APIC conference attendees and ICT®’s audience learns from this presentation?

GM: What is important to take away from this presentation is that again, transmission-based precautions can be complex. And if we want our ambulatory partners to follow infection prevention and control practices, we also need to take an active role in being able to support them, in meeting them halfway.

ICT®: What surprised you about the research that you did for this presentation?

GM: What surprised me the most was the willingness of the ambulatory clinics to be able to work together, I feel sometimes, especially in inpatient, they're definitely a little bit more hurried, or they have competing priorities. But I was fortunate in that our ambulatory partners, were very willing to collaborate with us; they didn't know as much necessarily. They did recognize that we're the experts, and so I think they were so willing to take on the information. That makes our job so much easier. Also, what's important is how important it is to have the use of technology. Just as [we as] infection preventionists maybe might not use as much technology or might not have as much background, I think it's really important to either brush up on that, or just to be willing to explore new things.

ICT®: What is the most difficult part of the isolation precautions? What do you think that fails the most?

GM: What is the most probably with isolation precautions is definitely knowing all of the criteria to come out of it. It can be a little complex sometimes. Because some people might be excluded for some reason or another because they might be immunocompromised, or they might have to stay in isolations for longer periods of time or depending on the type of resistant organism, again, might have to stay on there for a longer time because of colonization and having to explain that. That can definitely be a barrier sometimes, which is why I think it's important for us to be able to help support them not only by helping them to remove isolations, but also to continue to educate or re-educate on these ideas.

ICT®: Is there anything else you would like to add?

GM: I know that some hospitals might be limited in the resources that they might have. But I think that trying to make a case for being able to have more technology will help you to clear yourself so that you're not so strapped to your desk and do so much desk work, but instead so you're actually out there being able to do the prevention work.

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