What the future holds for infection control nurses

In the practice of infection control, the gradual shift from a nurse-centric to a multidisciplinary specialty means the traditional role of the infection control nurse won't be feasible in the future, predicts a registered nurse who serves as an infection preventionist, in a post on Infection Control Today.

The field is changing for many reasons, particularly as the industry seeks infection control nurses, now known by the generic term "infection preventionists"  or IPs to serve as consultative clinicians and there is an increasing demand to provide data for national reporting requirements, writes Marilyn Hanchett, R.N. A national solution hasn't been proposed to fix what she dubs a "clinical/non-clinical problem," she writes.

Research research indicates that hospital IPs spend more time reporting and collecting data than they do protecting patients from healthcare-associated infections (HAIs), FierceHealthcare reported in June. That activity takes about five hours of a typical work day, leaving little time for IPs to conduct rounding, safety drills, practice observation or answering safety-related questions.

Long before superbug outbreaks tied to a specialized medical scope sickened and killed patients across the country, infection control has been a major priority for hospitals, FierceHealthcare reported in May. But the need to curb infections has become even more pressing now that the shift from a fee-for-service model to value-based payments has led the federal government to increasingly tie reimbursements to patient outcomes.

The problem also is magnified as hospitals struggle with recruiting and retaining IPs, which points to an "urgent need" for a radical and new vision for the role, according to Hanchett. But she called for the industry to seek the opinions of experienced nurses to shape this new role. 

To learn more:
- read the piece on Infection Control Today