Study: Infection preventionists play crucial role in disease outbreaks


An integrated infection prevention response can serve as an effective strategy to combat disease outbreaks often spurred by decreasing immunization rates, according to a study presented at the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology's 45th Annual Conference June 13-15 in Minneapolis.

During the 2017 measles outbreak in Minnesota, Bloomington, Minn.-based HealthPartners treated 24 of the 75 confirmed cases in the state. The health system implemented a command center in which infection preventionists across the system's hospitals teamed up to respond to the outbreak. Through the initiative, HealthPartners relied on its integrated EHR system to share outbreak information in real time and adjust prevention strategies, as necessary.

Texas also experienced a severe mumps outbreak in 2017. The study found 67 percent of acute care facilities in the state lacked a designated infection preventionist, and many facilities were not familiar with testing guidelines for mumps. In response to the outbreak, public health officials shared health advisories to promote mumps awareness and communicated with healthcare facilities treating patients diagnosed with the mumps to ensure they were following proper infection control guidelines.

"[Infection preventionists] play a critical role in the public health response to outbreak situations by communicating and implementing control measures," said 2018 APIC President Janet Haas, PhD, RN. "These case studies show clearly that comprehensive strategies in the face of outbreak situations go a long way toward preventing further spread of infection and disease.”

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