Infection control should not be a foreign concept in any hospital, but it is not always a simple thing to take the reigns of an infection control program. Whether you want to make a difference in your career by spearheading what could be a lifesaving program or have been hand picked to shepherd your facility through updates in infection control protocol, it is important that you approach the process in the right way in order to have the maximum impact.
Use National Statistics
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have many available infection control statistics that can work as a baseline for an infection control program, including data on the use of antimicrobial drugs, handwashing prevalence, and HAIs. If your facility falls below the national average, coming up to those standards is a good first step, but ultimately your aim as an infection control nurse should be to exceed the average.
The time of year can have an effect on how infection control procedures are implemented. Most specifically, cold and flu season is a critical time to enforce handwashing protocol and educate patients as well as staff about the importance of keeping germs to themselves -- through regular washing, disinfecting, and behavioral changes like cough and sneezing into a sleeve instead of a hand.
Tap Into Expert Resources
In addition to the CDC, the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) is a valuable resource for new as well as experienced infection control nurses. Connecting with like minded professionals through infection control conferences or even online can be critical when you want to start a real conversation about infection control at your facility.
Though there is no strict government requirement to become certified, increasingly institutions want their infection control nurses to earn a CIC, or Certification in Infection Prevention and Control from the Certification Board of Infection Control and Epidemiology (CBIC), which is a branch of APIC. A CIC certification exam can give you the impetus to stay up to date on protocols and can assist any infection control nurse in future career opportunities.
Choose the Right Tools
Infection control starts and ends with human behavior and no infection control program can be successful without cooperation from hospital staff and administrators. However, the right infection control tools can make the difference in meeting or exceeding standards. Be sure to evaluate new tools and projects in terms of how they will affect your stated protocol, whether that means investing in dust containment during routine maintenance projects or setting up hand sanitizing stations throughout the facility.
Infection control is neither a buzzword nor a last minute responses to a crisis. Rather, it should be a part of your everyday routine. If you are tasked with creating or improving the infection control program at your facility, it is essential that you do so thoughtfully. It will make a huge difference in patient outcomes and could potentially save lives.