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Should Infection Preventionist Responsibilities Focus on Data Collection or Making Rounds?

The day-to-day responsibilities of an infection preventionist (IP) can be daunting. According to APIC,the IP’s role includes: 

  1. Collection and analysis of infection data

  2. Evaluation of products and procedures

  3. Development and review of policies and procedures

  4. Consultation on infection prevention risk assessment, prevention, and control strategies (includes activities related to occupational health, emergency management, and construction).

  5. Education efforts directed at interventions to reduce infection risks

  6. Education of patients and families

  7. Implementation of changes made by regulatory, accrediting, and licensing agencies – including reportable disease reporting

  8. Application of epidemiologic principles directed at improving patient outcomes

  9. Antimicrobial management

  10. Participation in research projects

  11. Provision of high quality service in a cost-effective manner

This list does not directly include committee participation and preparation or travelling to meetings if you are part of a larger healthcare system. An implied responsibility is that IPs will make rounds in all areas of the healthcare facility in order to implement these responsibilities. How does the IP find time for rounding? How important is it to make rounds and meet the people involved in direct patient care?

It is vital to make rounds for an IP to accurately understand the hospital environment. It can be common for an IP to walk through the ICU or investigate an increase in infection rates, only to be informed of issues or practices where the IP was not made aware of the situation previously.

Rounding on a regular basis can help avoid unknown situations. But more questions need to be answered about the rounding process: Will the IP go alone or as part of a group, such as an environmental rounds team with environmental services and engineering? Which departments should be visited, (i.e. all nursing units, operating room, ambulatory surgery, interventional radiology, cardiology procedure area, respiratory therapy, radiology, pharmacy, central sterile, etc.)? How often should the IP make  these rounds? If you find areas for improvement, what is the policy for notification. What is the policy for follow-up? If there is more than one IP on the team, should the responsibilities be divided by units and departments?

Somehow we must again prioritize making rounds on a regular basis so that employees know the infection prevention team and who to call when there is an issue. By being visible, minor problems can be resolved before they turn into bigger problems.

Does your hospital’s IP team make rounds and how often are they done? Has rounding helped prevent infections, not just control them?


References :

  1. APIC Text of Infection Control and Epidemiology. Chapter 1. Infection Prevention and Control Programs. Revised 6/6/14.

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