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This award-winning blog supplements the articles in Hospital Infection Control & Prevention.

APIC 2018: Infection Preventionists Must Take the Lead for Patients

By Gary Evans, Medical Writer

Infection preventionists (IPs) are poised to take leadership roles in healthcare as longstanding advocates of patient safety, but they must demonstrate objective competency through professional certification to secure a “seat at the table,” APIC President Janet Haas, PhD, RN, CIC, FSHEA, FAPIC, said in Minneapolis to some 5,000 attendees at the annual conference of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology.

“I believe that infection prevention is at a crossroads, and we as APIC members have an opportunity to determine our future if we identify it and prepare for it now,” she said. “Patient safety is at the very center of everything we do as IPs.”

Healthcare associated infections (HAIs) are now more broadly understood by patients and the public, and accordingly IPs are emerging from the early days of crunching HAI rate data in their respective silos. With patient safety at the forefront of healthcare quality improvement and regulatory initiatives, IPs are well positioned to take the lead and speak up to prevent infections.

“We have to be recognized as the experts and leaders in our facilities,” Haas said. “To do this we have to have a high level of competence — to be the go-to people for our facilities, our colleagues, our patients, and for our colleagues in public health.”

As part of this, APIC is emphasizing professional certification in infection control (CIC), even lobbying states to require that certified IPs are required in healthcare to protect patients.

“It’s time to rally around certification,” Haas said. “Certification is the best objective way to show your competence to the wider world. It shows your commitment to your patients and your profession.”

Thus armed, IPs should bring their expertise to bear on decisions that affect patient safety. This means taking a seat at the table with the key clinicians and administrators at your facility, she said.

“If you are not at the table, you are not an advocate for infection prevention that could save patient lives,” Haas said to growing applause. “This doesn’t take an advanced degree — it just takes some courage. So, make the commitment right here, right now to do this.”