Hospitals more prepared to handle Ebola but still lack resources

Nine in 10 infection control leaders say their organizations are better prepared than they were a year ago to care for a patient with a highly infectious disease like Ebola, but more than half say they still don't have enough resources to support infection prevention programs.

The survey findings were released today by the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC), which polled its 15,000 members in September, including 981 infection preventionists who work in acute care hospitals, to determine their ongoing needs a year after the first Ebola patient was admitted to a U.S. hospital.

As a result of the Ebola crisis, 10 percent of respondents said they received additional personnel from their facilities, and 37 percent received support for staff training programs on infection control protocols.

But a quarter of the respondents worry they may not have enough personal protective equipment to meet the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for care of Ebola patients, according to the poll.

Although the overall results are encouraging, Susan Dolan, R.N., president-elect of APIC and hospital epidemiologist at Children's Hospital Colorado, said in a survey announcement that many facilities don't have adequate support to protect patients and healthcare workers from the threat of emerging infectious diseases and antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

"We urge healthcare leaders to assess the needs of their infection prevention programs and dedicate the necessary staff, training, and technology resources to this critical area," she said.

The findings echo concerns of U.S. nurses who say their organizations are unprepared to handle future epidemics. The majority of hospitals have not received funding or training from the Department of Health and Human Services to prepare for future outbreaks.

"Though progress has been made toward addressing unanticipated, deadly threats like Ebola, there is still more to do to address infection prevention programs overall. We can't wait for the next crisis to get ready," Katrina Crist, APIC's chief executive officer, said in the survey findings announcement.

To learn more:
- here's the survey (.pdf)
- read the announcement