Infection preventionist plays pivotal role in keeping facility safe

FRIDAY, MAY 24, 2019

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are between 1 and 3 million cases of serious infection in American nursing homes annually. The CDC also reports that these infections contribute to rehospitalizations, resident deaths and increased healthcare costs. With the advent of the Reform of Requirements for Long-Term Care Facilities, known as the “Mega Rule,” the focus has sharpened in on infection prevention and control. Facilities are required to have an infection prevention and control program to help prevent pathogen transmission and protect residents and staff from developing infections. An effective program establishes a system to prevent, identify, investigate, report and control communicable diseases and infections, according to CDC guidelines.
As part of the Mega Rule’s Phase 3 requirements, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services mandated that long-term care facilities hire or designate an infection preventionist who is responsible for the program. This position is critical in keeping residents, staff and visitors safe from infection. The person(s) in this position must be a clinician who works at least part-time at the facility. The infection preventionist must complete specialized training in infection prevention and control. They also must be a member of the facility’s quality assessment and assurance committee and report to the committee on the infection prevention and control program on a regular basis.
As the November 28 deadline for the completion of Phase 3 requirements looms, the CDC recently released the Nursing Home Infection Preventionist Training course. Produced in collaboration with CMS, the course covers core activities of effective infection prevention and control programs as well as recommended practices to reduce pathogen transmission, healthcare-associated infections and antibiotic resistance. According to the course, the infection preventionist should be knowledgeable about infections, including how to detect, control and prevent them. The training course outlines several important infectious disease concepts such as epidemiology, surveillance, common infectious diseases, pathogen transmission, diagnosis of infectious diseases and antimicrobials and treatment of infections. Ultimately, the infection preventionist will have to draw on a variety of skills and experiences to lead and implement an effective infection prevention and control program that works to keep the resident community safe.
The Compliance Store has several resources to support the infection preventionist in implementing an effective infection prevention and control program, including policies, guidance on disinfection, risk assessments and training modules. To learn more, go to