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‘Infection Preventionist’ Mandate for LTC Takes Effect

Infection Prevention Training and Resources

The free Nursing Home infection Preventionist Training Course allows people to register and then take 20 hours of infection-prevention training. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers training and other resources.

With a goal of curbing infections in long-term care (LTC) facilities, a new mandate takes effect Nov. 28, 2019, requiring facilities to have at least one infection preventionist on staff. Part of the Phase 3 Requirements of Participation for Nursing Homes that came out in November 2016 from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), this mandate requires LTC facilities to have a designated and specially trained infection preventionist to run a comprehensive infection prevention and control program. The infection preventionist role can be part-time or full-time. The position is an “F-Tag 882,” which is the designation for an infection preventionist.

Infections in LTC facilities present a significant challenge. Up to 3 million serious infections occur annually across nursing homes, skilled nursing facilities and assisted living facilities, according to theCenters for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). As many as 380,000 people die of infections in LTC facilities each year, the CDC says. Infections include urinary tract infections, diarrheal diseases, antibiotic-resistant staph infections and others.

Infections can also be very costly for facilities. Expenses for antimicrobial therapy to thwart infections are estimated at between $38 million and $137 million each year. Hospitalizations cost another $673 million to $2 billion, according to figures cited by theAgency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

Up to 3 million serious infections occur each year across nursing homes, skilled nursing facilities and assisted living facilities.

GEARING UP FOR THE INFECTION PREVENTIONIST CHANGE

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and CDC are helping facilities ramp up for the infection preventionist change. The agencies are providing free online training for staff. This includes theNursing Home Infection Preventionist Training Course that offers 23 modules and submodules across a variety of topics, including:

  • An overview of the infection prevention and control program
  • The role and responsibilities of the infection preventionist
  • Infection surveillance
  • Outbreak management
  • Infection prevention practices such as hand hygiene and antibiotic usage

“This course will provide infection prevention and control (IPC) training for individuals responsible for IPC programs in nursing homes so they can effectively implement their programs and ensure adherence to recommended practices by front-line staff,” according to the site.

The course also offers information about the main activities of an effective program. It includes a detailed explanation of recommended practices to prevent pathogen transmission as well as reduce healthcare-associated infections and antibiotic resistance. In addition, the course offers resources for implementing infection prevention and control best practices, such as training tools, checklists, signs, and policy and procedure templates.

IMPLEMENT BASIC INFECTION PROTECTION

All staff in an LTC facility should be informed and trained on how the infection preventionist requirement affects them and the organization. This includes being educated on how to prevent infections, how to spot them and the protocol for reporting them.

Facilities can take proactive steps to prevent infections. One simple way is for LTC employees to adequately and routinely wash their hands during work shifts. Wearing the proper gloves is another effective way to prevent infections.

The CDC offersstandard precautions for patient care to protect healthcare providers from infection and prevent infections from spreading between patients. As the CDC notes, “Germs don’t move themselves. Germs depend on people, the environment, and/or medical equipment to move in healthcare settings.” 

Leading Contracts for Infection Prevention

Provista offers contracts for wipes through PDI, a supplier of cleaning and disinfecting products, to help prevent the spread of infections. PDI will also provide staff training to long-term care facilities that are Provista members.

THE ROLE OF A GPO IN INFECTION PROTECTION

Group purchasing organizations (GPOs) can help facilities meet their infection prevention mandate. GPO contracts offer industry-best pricing for items relating to prevention, like wound care, hand hygiene and surface cleaners/wipes. This ensures organizations have access to the products they need from reputable suppliers.

GPO relationships with national suppliers can also help with staffing and training. For example, Provista has partnerships with suppliers that specialize in providing staffing for all levels of an organization. GPO suppliers can also provide training to LTC staff about preventing infections and meeting the new mandate.

Now that facilities know the mandate is about to take effect, they should reach out to their GPOs for any training or staffing needs. Then facilities should make sure they have the right contracts in place to ensure the proper infection prevention products are in inventory. 

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