The Role of the Infection Control Practitioner
The typical Infection Control Practitioner (ICP) spends half of his/her time performing surveillance. This is accomplished in several ways. One is by monitoring infection reports from the laboratory. Some of the sites of infection include:
Other methods of obtaining data include: monitoring of the patient admission/discharge medical diagnoses, review of medical conditions occurring during hospital stay, procedures performed on the patients, medications given (i.e., antibiotics), and review of emergency room visits.
Another method of surveillance involves actual observation of staff and physician practice to ensure that the appropriate precautions for infection prevention are carried out. Feedback of hand washing practices is an important method of improving hand washing. Reports or concerns from patients or family members related to practices or infections are always taken seriously and investigated.
Surveillance of any construction or renovation projects is also important to prevent contamination into the air or water system. Ensuring barriers are placed to prevent dust and moisture from entering the patient care area requires frequent monitoring. Involvement during the planning phase ensures adequate hand washing facilities and ventilation are provided. Other duties of the ICP include education of the staff about infectious diseases, how diseases and germs are transmitted, prevented, treated, and protection measures. Staff are given education before contact with patients, annually at employee updates, and each time an issue related to infection control arises in their specific department. The ICP works with each department director to ensure that department specific training covers infection control issues. Education for patients and family members is also provided at times to help them cope with an infection or prevent spread to another family member.
Reporting certain communicable diseases to the public health department is also a function of the ICP. This may include interviewing the patient when the infection could cause an outbreak in others or to determine a cause of the infection, such as with food poisoning.
Additional duties of the ICP include development of policies related to infection prevention measures and assisting other departments of the healthcare facility with their policies.
Community service projects include educational programs related to OSHA, blood borne pathogens, sexually transmitted disease lectures to teenagers, physician office infection control program management, and development of information related to infectious disease for the public and media.