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Top 10 Infection Control Challenges

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, June 27, 2011

5. Emerging Infectious Organisms and Resistance
There are pervasive concerns about problems with newer resistant organisms and the emergence of new infectious bacteria, such as NDM-1 drug resistant Klebsiella pneumonia. Decisions to decolonize certain patients, discovered to be carriers, with antibiotics create the risk of emergence of resistant bacterial strains.

6. Persuading the C-Suite
Speaking in general from conversations with fellow infection control preventionists, Kaiser's Parodi acknowledged that for some hospitals, it's a challenge to convince the C-suite that hospital-acquired infections aren't just unavoidable risks of doing business, and unavoidable.

"It takes some convincing of the C-suite and making the business case to show them that we need to invest resources into preventing these, and it's not a slam dunk that every executive is going to buy into this. You have to keep at it, and make that business case, and push for interventions that you know need to be done."

Parodi added that he believes that in the C-suite "the tide is changing, and they're recognizing this, if for nothing else because more states are requiring public reporting of these HAIs. Beyond the issue of cost, there's the issue of the hospital's reputation. You don't want a bad reputation either in your local market or the broader market."

Chris Cahill, an infection control hospital consultant who formerly worked for the California Department of Public Health, says a key issue throughout hospitals and other healthcare settings is the lack of resources.

"What infection control chiefs now don't have is buy-in from the top down, or the bottom up.  Administration is telling them, 'This is not my problem. It's your problem. Make it go away.'"

We're entering a whole new era for infection control," Cahill said. "And a lot of hospitals just don't have the resources they need to prepare. Though they may have an infection control person assigned, that person doesn't have the training or the ability to swallow everything that's happening now. The biggest issue today is getting the C-suite educated."

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