What is the role of Infection Prevention?
Infection Prevention (IP) programs function to decrease the acquisition and transmission of infection in healthcare settings, including device- and procedure-related infections. They monitor infection rates and patterns in healthcare facilities to identify and arrest outbreaks, as well as troubleshoot problems like increased rates of surgical site infections (SSIs). IP programs monitor and promote compliance with hygiene measures like handwashing and equipment cleaning, and they implement and monitor facility policies related to infection transmission, such as isolation precautions and air and water handling.
IP teams are usually led by a certified infection preventionist with an ID physician acting as adviser/medical director.
Why do I need an IP program?
Increase patient safety. IP programs are affirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as critical for patient safety, and they are needed to track healthcare-associated infections nationwide via the National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) (1).
Decrease costs. As of 2017, the estimated average cost of a single surgical site infection (SSI) is over $25,000 and can range up to $90,000 (2).
Avoid penalties. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has a policy of nonpayment for a number of charges associated with SSIs that are considered preventable, so avoiding even a few SSIs can provide significant financial benefit to a surgical facility.
Improve outcomes. IP programs are cost-effective and have even been associated with improved long-term survival in ICU patients (3).
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Guidelines for Environmental Infection Control in Health-Care Facilities.
Berríos-Torres SI et al. eAppendix JAMA Surg. Published online May 3, 2017.
Dick AW et al. American Journal of Infection Control, Volume 43, Issue 1, 4 - 9