For example, only 49.6% of the hospitals had a physician hospital epidemiologist, and 38.4% had no personnel who were certified in infection prevention and control, a training program that Stone says is associated with lower rates of hospital-acquired infections.
Stone says that her team strongly believes that professional organizations or The Joint Commission should come up with stronger guidelines or accreditation requirements for hospital ICU physician epidemiologists and infection preventionists with appropriate certification.
"There never has been an exact staffing ratio," Stone says, "although we know that economies of scale do exist. A hospital with 1,000 ICU beds may not need as many. It would be nice if APIC and SHEA (the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology and the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America) would come out and say that the guidelines should be above this."
Asked what hospitals and policymakers should do now, Stone replies, "we have to get better guidelines. And we need to get more professional certification. And we need to improve practice at the bedside, and the way we improve practice at the bedside is to have more certified infection preventionists and better guidelines that can help, because we have to get these hospital-acquired infection rates down.