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

Is hospital janitor really an infection preventionist?

Those who have been in infection prevention for lo these many years will remember a time when the health care environment was discounted as a significant source of transmission of HAIs. This was in part a healthy reaction to the endless culturing of environmental sources in an era when IPs were focused more on data collection than intervention.

The bug has turned again, and the environment is a reborn area of emphasis – thanks in no small measure to the ability of C. diff and some of the emerging gram negatives to claim squatters rights to any given surface or fomite.

Enter the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) and the Association for the Healthcare Environment (AHE). They are partnering to “strengthen the relationship between infection prevention (IP) and environmental services (EVS) to improve patient outcomes and reduce infections,” according to a press release.

A joint educational campaign, entitled “Clean Spaces, Healthy Patients: Leaders in Infection Prevention and Environmental Services working together for better patient outcomes,” will incorporate educational resources, training materials, and other solutions to help IP and EVS professionals combat the spread of healthcare-associated infections (HAIs).

To determine the focus of the educational campaign, 2,000 members of APIC and AHE were surveyed to determine how they work together to protect patients. Survey results were presented at the AHE 2011 Annual Conference in Kissimmee, Fla. The survey found that infection prevention and environmental services professionals believe there is a need for additional education and resources to facilitate successful prevention of HAIs:

  • Half find it difficult to locate useful resources about proper cleaning and disinfection (51%).
  • 73% say their facility educates EVS front line staff well about their role in infection prevention; 54% believe other staff could be better educated about their role in cleaning.
  • About six in 10 respondents believe educational resources on cleaning, disinfection, and infection prevention and control should be directed to executives and also to physicians. Half believe patients and families of patients should be a target audience, while one-third state the general public should be an audience.
  • Nearly nine in 10 respondents believe EVS team members are treated with respect (85%).
  • Almost nine in 10 are interested in hearing how other facilities have created successful IP-EVS partnerships (88%).