Infection preventionists may spend more time collecting data than protecting patients. That is the view of a case study that suggests that the collection and reporting of hospital infection data to federal health agencies takes more than 5 hours each day, at the expense of time needed to ensure that frontline healthcare personnel are adhering to basic infection prevention practices such as handy hygiene.
Infection preventionists (IPs) have the important role of eliminating health-associated infections (HAIs) in US hospitals, which can affect up to 1 in 25 patients. The amount of time it takes to review lab data and complete reports for bloodstream infections, urinary tract infections, surgical site infections, MRSA infections and C.diff infections were found to be excessive.
Sharon L. Parrillo, assistant director, Infection Prevention, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Somerset, Somerville, New Jersey, commented: “HAI reporting exposes problems, drives improvements, and allows for benchmarking against national targets. But without adequate staffing, the burden of reporting takes time away from infection prevention activities that protect patients at the bedside.”
The research team calculated that 118.29 hours each month was spend reviewing lab reports and completing reporting using the NHSN criteria and definitions. This amounted to five hours and eight minutes a day, based on a five-day working week.
APIC 2015 President Mary Lou Manning, said: “This case report supports previous studies indicating that infection data collection, analysis, and reporting continue to be one of the IP’s most time consuming activities, even as their role expands in scope and responsibility.
“IPs can use the results to begin to create a model for an adequately resourced infection prevention program, as well as explore alternative strategies such as automated surveillance systems.
Parillo added: “I hope this study encourages lawmakers to consider the burden of IP time when new HAI reporting legislation is being considered, and helps IPs at other facilities start a conversation with their leadership about staffing and resources needed to ensure a safe environment for patients and staff.
“Much of what I do involves sitting at a desk. It’s frustrating, because that’s not how I can prevent infections. We need to be able to do more rounding, more hand hygiene observance, more preparedness, and more staff education.”