Two Weeks to Ponder the Meaning of Infection Prevention

Oct. 14-20 is Infection Prevention and Control Week, the perfect time to stop and think about why you do what you do for a living. At some point in your career as an infection control practitioner (ICP) have you started treating infections like widgets to be counted, processed and dispensed with? If you have been practicing infection control for a long time, its easy to get caught up in seeing infected patients as mere numbers on an epi report, instead of seeing them as they are living, breathing human beings unlucky enough to come down with an infection in the very place they thought they would find treatment and healing.

I suspect that no matter what we do for a living, humans have a tendency to go on auto-pilot every now and again, performing by rote because we are comfortable with the mechanics of the work, and can become tuned out to the subtleties required of this work. Let me give you example. In the editing process, we can be lulled by the tedium of looking for errant commas and semicolons and miss the entire context of the article. Did we rob ourselves of some of the meaning of the task as well as the fringe benefit of learning something from the text itself? Now let me ask, are there any areas in your work where you tune out and go into auto-pilot?

I bring up this topic because during Infection Prevention and Control Week, you have a terrific opportunity to accomplish several objectives. You can renew your vigor for the work and get a fresh take on what infection prevention really means. You can motivate other healthcare professionals to take a deeper interest in preventing infections. And you can educate patients and visitors about the principles and practices of infection prevention that will help keep everyone safe. Wont you take some time this month to consider how you can use your role as an ICP to advocate for change and champion infection prevention within your healthcare facility? You are healthcare superheroes for accepting nothing less than zero tolerance of infections and adverse events, and working diligently to ensure that every department in your facility is empowered in the principles of infection prevention.

Not to be outdone by ICPs, professionals working in central sterile have their own week to shine during Oct. 8-14, which is Central Service Professionals Week: Instrumental in Healthcare. Like ICPs, these individuals are also heroes because they are on the front line of ensuring that medical and surgical devices are properly cleaned, decontaminated and sterilized. You literally have in your hands the power to stop dangerous pathogens in their tracks, help patients avoid painful infections, and save your facility the outrageous costs associated with surgical site infections.

I salute both groups of professionals, and I hope you realize how important you are in the fight against infections.

If you have held some kind of event or launched some kind of educational campaign in conjunction with either or both of the aforementioned theme weeks, please drop me a line and tell me about it so I can share it with other ICT readers.

Until next month, bust those bugs!

Kelly M. Pyrek 
Group Editor, Virgo Medical Group