Infection prevention impacts every clinical area and facility as the challenges grow increasingly complex.

Preventing Infection

Why Infection-Prevention Challenges are Posing New Questions in Healthcare

“The future success of IP programs will, therefore, lay in identifying and implementing cutting-edge program modifications and best practices while supported by targeted executive actions."

After 50 years of evolution, the infection prevention field finds itself confronting more complex challenges than ever before.

It will take strong leadership, information sharing and management coaching to tackle 14 topics of concern identified in a study recently published in the American Journal of Infection Control.

“These advances must be accomplished with the understanding of the importance of a structure for infection prevention nationally that spans across the continuum of care,” write Robert Garcia, an infection preventionist at the department of healthcare epidemiology at State University of New York, Stony Brook, and others. 

They also must be “resilient to mammoth events such as pandemics,” write the authors, who are experienced infection preventionists (IPs), epidemiologists and other content experts.

They offer recommendations for change in each of those 14 categories of concern, which include: antibiotic-resistant organisms, diagnostic stewardship, Healthcare Associated Infections (HAI) surveillance, prevention and emerging pathogens, and the standardization of IP programs.

“The future success of IP programs will, therefore, lay in identifying and implementing cutting-edge program modifications and best practices while supported by targeted executive actions,” the authors write.

Infection prevention clearly impacts every clinical area and facility from pulmonology in the bronchoscopy suite to GI endoscopy, from hospital bedsides to ambulatory care centers and beyond.

The researchers note that the financial ramifications brought on by COVID-19 may present the greatest ongoing challenge to healthcare. Rising operating costs and decreasing revenue may translate to reduced budgets for infection prevention programs.

Last year marked the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC), an organization devoted to advancing the science and practice in infection prevention and control.

During those years, the position and department title has changed from “infection control” to “infection prevention and control” to better reflect the goals of the job.

Among the specific issues that the study identifies as troublesome:

  • Hand hygiene compliance among healthcare providers remains a challenge, largely blamed on ineffective placement of dispensers and sinks, inaccurately reported data, distractions, or the topic not included as part of safety culture.
  • Cleaning of patient rooms is often found to be inadequate, and healthcare workers have been found as likely to be contaminated by touching an environmental surface as by direct patient contact.
  • Because organisms with newly identified antibiotic-resistant mechanisms continue to be found worldwide, access to electronic communication about these emerging organisms across the continuum of healthcare is essential.

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