Nine in 10 infection control leaders (92 percent) believe their facilities are better prepared today than a year ago to receive a patient with a highly lethal infectious disease like Ebola, but more than half (55 percent) say their facilities have not provided additional resources to support their infection prevention and control programs as a result of the Ebola crisis, according to an Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) survey of infection preventionists at U.S. hospitals.
The survey, conducted September 24-30, 2015, polled APIC’s 15,000 members to determine their ongoing needs a year after the first Ebola patient was admitted to a U.S. hospital. Respondents included 981 U.S.-based infection preventionists working in acute care hospitals. Infection preventionists identify sources of infections and limit their transmission in healthcare facilities.
Half of respondents (53 percent) reported that there is less than one or just one full-time infection preventionist at their organization. Of these, 45 percent work in facilities with more than 100 beds. As a result of the Ebola crisis, 10 percent of respondents received additional personnel from their facilities, and a third (37 percent) received support for staff training programs on infection control protocols.
“We are encouraged to learn that our members feel their facilities are more prepared to handle patients with highly lethal infectious diseases, and to know that some infection prevention and control departments have obtained additional staff and resources,” said Susan Dolan, RN, MS, CIC, president-elect of APIC and hospital epidemiologist at Children’s Hospital Colorado. “But with the ongoing threat of emerging infectious diseases and antibiotic-resistant organisms, we remain concerned that many facilities are lagging behind in providing adequate support to protect patients and healthcare workers. 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.”
Almost two-thirds of respondents (62 percent) are continuing to train staff on the management of patients with Ebola. But a quarter may not have enough personal protective equipment (PPE) to meet the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines for care of Ebola patients, according to the poll.
“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,” said Katrina Crist, MBA, CAE, APIC chief executive officer. “APIC recently undertook a ‘MegaSurvey’ of the infection preventionist profession and looks forward to sharing key data in 2016 to better inform the dialogue about infection prevention staffing and resource levels.”
According to the CDC, 722,000 patients contracted healthcare-associated infections in U.S. acute care hospitals in 2011.