Infection preventionists spend more time on data collection than prevention

Hospital infection preventionists (IPs) spend more time reporting and collecting data than they do protecting patients from healthcare-associated infections (HAIs), according to new research.

Researchers, led by Sharon L. Parillo, R.N., assistant director of infection prevention at New Jersey's Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Somerset, analyzed the time it took to comply with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' HAI reporting requirements. They plan to present the results of their research this weekend at the 42nd Annual Conference of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC).

They calculated that reporting activity takes up about five hours of a typical workday and, with a five-day workweek, 118.29 hours a month, leaving IPs with limited time for their other responsibilities such as rounding, safety drills, practice observation or answering safety-related questions. Moreover, the 355-bed community hospital where Parillo and her team conducted their research was only at 60 percent capacity.

"We are fortunate that we have two IPs on staff at our hospital, but many community hospitals have only one staff person dedicated to infection control," Parillo said in the announcement. "This analysis didn't even take into account the time necessary to perform state and local HAI reporting, which many facilities are also required to do."

The study backs up prior research indicating data collection and reporting are some of IPs' most time-consuming duties, said APIC 2015 President Mary Lou Manning, Ph.D. Manning recommended IPs use Parillo's research as the basis for more adequately-resourced infection prevention models, as well as calling on policymakers to consider less burdensome reporting legislation.

HAIs affect about 1 in 25 hospital patients, according to a 2014 study. Of the more than 720,000 HAIs acquired in 2011, about 75,000 patients died. In December, CMS announced new penalties for providers that failed to reduce HAIs and other hospital-acquired conditions, although a January report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed encouraging progress on the issue.

To learn more:
- read the research announcement via News Medical