COVID-19 Lessons for Infection Prevention: APIC's Recommendations to Be Better Prepared for Next Time

Key recommendations in the report include normalizing mask wearing and avoiding the supply chain failures.

After 2 years of the COVID-19 pandemic, infection preventionists have learned many lessons about what has been effective in their field and what changes are needed. A recent report from the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) COVID-19 Task Force, published on its website, provides an in-depth look at what happened during the pandemic. The report lists what APIC’s recommendations are for infection preventionists (IPs), health care facilities, and federal and state governments on ways to be better prepared for future pandemics.

To discuss the new report, Infection Control Today® spoke with Devin Jopp, CEO of APIC. He said the report is a culmination of a year’s worth of work, and the changes it outlines are “going to take a lot of investment to really make sure that we have infection prevention and control staffing, resources, [and] practices in place…so that the next time we have another pandemic—and it will happen one day—that the system is adaptable and capable to move and change based on the needs.”

A few of the key recommendations Jopp mentions centered around personal protective equipment (PPE). IPs struggled with having the proper universal personal protective equipment (PPE), making their jobs even more difficult than needed. Other recommendations included normalizing wearing masks for the public and coordinating guidelines for masks at the state and federal levels. Also, avoiding the supply chain failures that happened during the COVID-19 pandemic will be vital, making sure that facilities can get testing and masks as well as other PPE.

Another recommendation is about capacity of nursing homes and hospitals and requiring infection preventionists in each of those facilities to help prevent the deaths due to COVID-19. Jopp said that each medical facility and hospital should have their own IPs, and that there is a pipeline of IPs ready to work. All these recommendations are for both the United States and the rest of the world.

To encourage IPs to implement these changes, Jopp said APIC has a new initiative called “HAI [health care-associated infection] Fast Forward.” It is going to take attention and determination to implement these changes throughout the entire system. “We lost 10 years of progress on HAIs, and it is going to take investment to get it back. It does require our full commitment to make it happen.”