3 key barriers facing infection prevention and control efforts

From drug resistance to the growing threat of Candida auris, today's infection preventionists face a growing to-do list with limited resources. 

In response to recent findings showing clinical cases of C. auris grew 95 percent from 2020 to 2021, The Washington Post spoke to experts who said the research points to how poorly funded and understaffed hospitals' infection prevention efforts are. 

Mackenzie Weise, epidemiologist and clinical surveillance leader at Wolters Kluwer, echoed those same concerns in an April 7 blog post. Here are three of the most pressing challenges facing infection prevention and control programs:

1. Emerging pathogens and antimicrobial resistance. Newly emerging diseases can spread quickly and often present with limited information about transmission, detection and treatment. "This introduces significant challenges for programs aiming to implement best practices to prevent and control spread," Ms. Weise said. "In these scenarios, facilities must be prepared to respond quickly to protect the safety of all persons within the healthcare environment."

2. Facility resourcing. The COVID-19 pandemic emphasized the importance of hospitals investing in medical surge preparedness and surge capacity. The ability to have strong preparedness, however, relies on adequate staffing, supplies, and competent infection prevention processes and process improvement efforts. "When programs are built and equipped to handle all the complexities, risks, and costs that come with modern healthcare, it's able to optimize the replication of best practices and the avoidance of error."

3. Surveillance and reporting requirements. Staying up to date with the numerous agencies and regulatory bodies that set standards for healthcare-associated infections takes up a large portion of infection preventionists' time. In addition, an "unsustainable proportion of surveillance activities continue to be performed manually," leaving IPs with less time for other patient safety efforts. Healthcare organizations should prioritize the use of automated IP surveillance software, Ms. Weise said.

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