According to the National Institutes of Health, “resources are one of the major limitations in achieving an optimal infection control program; hospital epidemiologists should consider the balance between cost, clinical outcomes, patient satisfaction, and economic impact when considering new interventions.” Developing and maintaining effective infection control procedures requires adequate resources over a prolonged period of time – and that includes human resources.

There are two main areas in which healthcare settings must consider human resources/staffing in conjunction with infection control procedures: maintaining good practices, and developing these procedures in the first place.

Maintaining infection control practices is an all-hands-on-deck situation. Germs don’t discriminate based on job titles, so neither should your procedures. Personnel who are in leadership roles – whether on the “front lines” or in administrative roles – can and must lead by example. These individuals can model best practices and ensure that their teams are likewise following appropriate guidelines for hygiene and safety.

Because resources are often stretched thin in healthcare settings, it’s important that as many individuals as possible feel empowered to make a difference. That can mean anything from “team captains” who oversee adherence in smaller groups or shifts, to spending a little time and money on “reminder” posters and environmental graphics, to building a culture where anyone, at any level, can feel comfortable raising questions about procedures or behaviors. A culture of extreme hierarchy and deference can permeate some healthcare settings, which is not conducive to effective, empowered infection control. On the other hand, a culture that encourages open communication and doesn’t penalize those who express concerns is more likely to make the most of human resources to maintain healthy protocols.

To get proactive in avoiding healthcare-associated infections (HAIs), many organizations choose to hire professionals with specialized expertise in disease and infection control. Often called Certified Infection Control Preventionists, these experts analyze situations and provide detailed plans for all aspects of healthcare safety, including:

  • Developing and recommending best-practice procedures
  • Promoting an overall culture of safety
  • Monitor the latest developments in hygiene and safety
  • Educating location personnel
  • Educating patients, visitors, caretakers, and other support
  • Educating the community at large

While hiring a preventionist can require the use of more resources up-front, it can actually lead to more effective uses of resources in the long run. With expert advice on infection control, organizations can develop more comprehensive and effective procedures that lead to better outcomes and fewer problems. In turn, that saves time and money with fewer unnecessary complications, fewer extra procedures, shorter average stays, and fewer risks of expensive fines or litigation.

Hiring these professionals can take some time and may require more specific or non-traditional searches. That’s why it can be worth it to partner with an experienced search partner like Aspen. Our team has an extensive database of experienced, qualified Certified Infection Control Preventionists, and we’ll put in the legwork to match the right person with the right qualifications to meet your needs.

We’ll work with you until we find the perfect person to fit your requirements – and to help you build a culture of improved safety and better outcomes.

By Tom Zeleny, NHA