Not all infection preventionists, most of whom are nurses, are certified, and many of them work part time doing other things, such as providing direct patient care.
Among other findings from the study, fewer than half of the hospitals reported the presence of a hospital epidemiologist, and only six hospitals said theirs worked full time. "Half of hospitals reported that the director in charge of the infection control department was certified in infection control," the researchers said.
Stone says that over the last 10 years, the number of infection preventionists certified or not has gone down, from one IP per 115 acute care beds in 1999 to one IP per 144 beds in 2009. Only about half of these professionals have received certification, she said.
The authors mentioned a caveat that their study may have been influenced by selection bias, because hospitals with "high intensity" infection control processes and low hospital-acquired infection rates "may have been more likely to participate." Also, they regretted the lack of MSRA data from those 112 hospitals that chose not to volunteer them.