SHEA Announces EPI Project Winner

The Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA) announces the winner of the second annual EPI Project Competition. This young investigator award was presented to Clare Rock, MD, an infectious diseases fellow at the University of Maryland, for her proposal seeking to develop a more accurate marker of overall hospital quality that can be objectively applied and compared across hospitals. The EPI Project award, presented to Rock at the SHEA 2013 spring conference, seeks to further the Societys mission of fostering future leaders in infection prevention and control.

Dr. Rocks proposal represents a novel approach to addressing an important issue currently facing the field, says Keith F. Woeltje, MD, PhD, SHEA spring 2013 conference planning co-chair. This important work will seek to identify unique solutions to assessment bias in infection surveillance and help to advance the skills and contributions of this young investigator.

The SHEA EPI Project is a competition designed to identify important research proposals from young investigators that can shape the understanding of infection transmission, prevention methods and implementation issues. Rock will receive a $20,000 grant award from the SHEA Research and Education Foundation to conduct her study using the SHEA Research Network, a consortium of nearly 200 hospitals collaborating on multi-center research projects.

Rock will use the award to facilitate a study examining the link between hospital-acquired bacteremia, or bacteria in the blood, and central-line associated infections (CLABSIs). Since CLABSIs are one of the most common publicly reported healthcare-associated infections, rates of CLABSI are often used by hospitals and states in infection surveillance and public reporting. However, since the definition of CLABSI can be subjective and present other challenges, there is a clear need for an objective, simple and reproducible measurement.

By measuring bacteremia, Rock anticipates an improved ability to compare rates of infection between hospitals and develop a potentially more accurate marker of overall hospital quality. 

Hospitals are coming under increasing pressure to achieve CLABSI rates of zero, calling into question the validity of current CLABSI outcomes measures, says Rock. We hope this new measurement will introduce an objective measurement that helps overcome assessment bias  in infection prevention, will providing a more accurate marker by which to compare hospitals quality.

Through the support of SHEA, the EPI Project empowers young researchers to investigate key trends and findings to further our understanding of infection prevention and control.