Speaking of which, Stone says, certified infection preventionists carry more authority because they are higher up on the hospital hierarchy. They can tell physicians, who she says are "notoriously" bad at hand hygiene, "that there is a process in place for people who are not routinely following procedures such as washing their hands and that those who aren't will be told 'this is not acceptable.' "
Stone says that the certification test is extremely difficult, requires a lot of study, and must be retaken every few years.
These infection preventionists are more effective than hospital epidemiologists, she added, because the latter, who are often physicians, are rarely dedicated to the task full time. They may be infectious disease specialists whose attention is frequently diverted to seeing patients in the hospital or clinic, aren't responsible for making sure nursing and environmental services staffs have necessary training and education in infection control, and aren't responsible for the everyday process.
The infection preventionist tracks infection rates to provide surgical site infection rate reports back to surgeons, which otherwise may go unmonitored.
"We think the certification piece seems to be doing something, and part of that may be the overall investment, in that the hospital that has one is saying this is so important, to make sure we are up to date and well qualified."