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More than a Week: Eliminating Healthcare-associated Infections Year-round

Posted on by Division of Cancer Prevention and Control
Neil Fishman, M.D.
Neil Fishman, M.D.

Guest Author – Neil Fishman, M.D.
President of the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA), Director of the Department of Healthcare Epidemiology and Infection Control and the Director of the Antimicrobial Management Program for the University of Pennsylvania Health System

In celebration of International Infection Prevention Week (IIPW), I wanted to draw attention to one of the key drivers of elimination of HAIs: collaboration. As Moving toward Elimination of Healthcare-Associated Infections: A Call to Action describes, a cooperative and team-based approach is the way toward success. We know this means applying consistently and cooperatively the tools and methods proven to work. Defined by the Call to Action, the broad-based pillars that make the goal of elimination possible are: adherence to evidence‐based practices; alignment of incentives; innovation in research; and collection of data to target efforts and measure progress. 

This fall marks some serious challenges: the emergence of increasingly dangerous resistant bacteria and the advent of the 2011 influenza season to name a few. It is the case that these issues and other enduring problems for infection prevention must be tackled through collaboration among stakeholders, including professional societies, agencies, policymakers, and administrators. But actions at the macro level are powerless if not underpinned by our full dedication as individual healthcare professionals. Even the simplest of our individual choices propel or hinder the goal of elimination and better patient safety. This call to action is not new, but is well served as a reminder that reaching the maximum reduction of HAIs also requires our individual, day-to-day dedication. This week provides a timely opportunity to reiterate these crucial steps: 

With constant vigilance and dedication, together we will bring about better and safer healthcare.

Posted on by Division of Cancer Prevention and Control

3 comments on “More than a Week: Eliminating Healthcare-associated Infections Year-round”

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    I read Dr. Fishman’r article and the information of the above two medical commentors and your introduction about what would I do to reduce HAIs. Two things on the hospital administration side should be done quickly: (1) do not punish medicalstaff, nursing staff, or technisions if they become sick and need to stay home for a few days. For the administration to punish medical staff for being sick and having to stay home, is a powerful incentive for sick staff to come to work anyway. It goes in the opposite direction of controlling HAIs and is something that can and should be eliminated. Some hospital administrations seem to be misusing the EPPA process. (2) I would let medical and all other hospital and nursing home staff know that getting the annual flew shot will be one of the high quality core indicators the administration looks at for merit raises. Other things would be to put on the exam gloves before the doctor opens the exam room doohr to see the patient, make sure hand sanitizers are in every room and there is signage at the exam room sink that doctors wash their hands after seeing each patient and the gloves go into the medical waste bag. As a patient, bring disposable hand wipes with you or a hand sanitizer. Best wishes, Michael E. Bailey.

    I agree with being frequent hand washing, sanitizer if no immediate running water access, coughing etiquette, etc. My concern is the fact that some state facilities punish the staff that miss work when ill by placing absences on their EPPA. The staff that cause and spread many of the illnesses continue to come in and spread it all around. How can state facilities say they are working with the CDC when the policies they are forced to follow ensure more people get ill?

    Leave it to the eloquent Dr. Fishman to bring us back to the basics. To me, getting the annual flu shot has always seemed a no-brainer, but the low vaccination rates among caregivers is troubling. At one hospital on whose Board I served, the vaccination rate was flat lined until we made a higher rate one of the primary quality indicators in the executive incentive compensation plan. That year, the vaccination rate soared and has continued high, once again proving Joseph Juran’s adage that what gets measured and monitored gets managed.

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