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

APIC testifies that infection prevention needs resources and support if threats like Ebola are added to annual burden of hospital infections

Can the recent emergence of Ebola in the United States -- which needed but a few cases to set off considerable hysteria -- finally convince a nation and its health care system that we underfund hospital infection control programs at our considerable peril?

In testimony submitted to Congress, the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology argues that it is time for full funding and support of infection control in the nation’s hospitals.

“Our members are an essential link to understanding and addressing risks that can contribute to serious public health threats,” APIC stated. “However, hospital infection control departments lack adequate funding and staffing to meet this need in addition to current HAI prevention and reporting requirements. In order for our nation to develop an adequate capacity to plan and prepare for the spread of novel infectious diseases, we respectfully submit that this limitation must be remedied.”

The testimony was prepared for a hearing today on the government response to Ebola by the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee.

Infection preventionists are experts in identifying sources of infection and limiting the transmission of infections within healthcare facilities, APIC stated. Their work is accomplished through the implementation of processes and procedures, and education of healthcare staff, to prevent health care associated infections (HAIs). This is especially critical when our nation is at risk from a virus as deadly as Ebola.

“The 2014 Ebola outbreak has dramatically reinforced the need for strong protocols and procedures to prevent infection within U.S. healthcare facilities,” APIC states. “However, what has not been clearly articulated is that our current infection prevention and control infrastructure is already pushed to the limit to address the day-to-day needs of preventing HAIs. Nearly 75,000 people die each year with these infections, about twice the number who die from automobile accidents.”