Effective infection prevention program can reduce HAIs

SUMMARYThe effective IPC/HE program must be multidisciplinary and include experts in both HE and infection prevention. Expertise is defined by sets of core competencies established by the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America for healthcare epidemiologists and by the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology for infection preventionists.

Program personnel must have authority delegated from institutional leadership to perform essential activities and implement change to reduce HAIs.

The number of personnel is determined not solely by the number of patients served by a given facility, but rather by the scope and complexity of program activities. The budget allocated for the program must support adequate numbers of personnel (infection preventionists and healthcare epidemiologists) to execute program activities. At present, many healthcare institutions are underresourced, with insufficient reimbursement for hospital epidemiology services and too few infection preventionists. This document provides an updated assessment of the resources and requirements for an effective IPC/HE program.

In 1996, the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA) convened an expert consensus panel to provide a “best assessment of the needs for a healthy and effective hospital based infection control and epidemiology program.” The panel’s consensus report was approved by both SHEA and the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) and published in 1998.

Nearly 2 decades later, transformative changes have taken place in healthcare and these changes have substantially increased the responsibilities and workload of infection prevention and control (IPC) programs. This evolution has included new challenges for IPC/healthcare epidemiology (hereafter referred to as IPC/HE) programs unheard of at the time of the original publication, including legislative mandates, public reporting, pay-for-performance, payment penalties, healthcare-associated infection (HAI) prevention collaboratives, bioterrorism (anthrax attacks), new and emerging pathogens (systemic acute respiratory distress syndrome, pandemic H1N1 influenza, Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome coronavirus, Ebola virus), Occupational Health and Safety Administration mandates, and the first National Action Plan to reduce HAIs. Concurrently, the rising frequencies of multidrug-resistant organisms (MDROs), unprecedented antimicrobial shortages, and a relative lack of new antimicrobials have further tested IPC strategies. Many of these challenges have necessitated increased education and training. In fact, there is ample evidence that a comprehensive IPC/HE program can reduce HAI, minimize the spread of MDROs, and address emerging infections and pathogens, ultimately keeping patients safer. Thus, the goals for IPC/HE programs noted in Table 1 remain relevant and have added urgency for implementation in a broader array of healthcare settings.

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© 2016 by The Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America. All rights reserved. Published online: 01 February 2016. Source: Website