Wednesday, December 10, 2014

What is the optimal number of infection preventionists for a hospital?

What is the optimal number of infection preventionists for a hospital? The conventional is estimate is that one infection preventionist is needed for every 250 acute care beds.  Here is a recent article in the American Journal of Infection Control that explores an alternative formula for calculating the number of infection preventionists in a hospital. The formula assigns an 'acute care bed equivalent' to different hospital variables (ICU bed, Long Term Care, Dialysis facility, ambulatory clinic, ambulatory surgery center). The goal is to adequately capture the increased work demand  through bed adjustment.

In my opinion, the times have changed. Now, the scope of infection prevention goes far beyond performing surveillance and reporting infection rates. The onus is on us to promote and engineer best practices for the healthcare system. In other words, we are meant to play a fundamental role in implementing, measuring and sustaining best practices in infection prevention (central line checklists, hand hygiene, head of bed elevation, chlorhexidine bathing, review of urinary catheter use, staphylococcal decolonization).Our role is active and much less passive than the historical norm.

The new paradigm is on preventing infections and that takes significant time and energy. Accurately capturing this effort may require more than infection prevention staffing by bed adjustment.

We are still searching for the optimal measurement of infection prevention staffing needs. 

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