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 Infection Prevention Collaboration May Improve Care, Communication

Accountable care organizations and other integrated care models are creating opportunities for partnerships care settings, and an article in the March 1 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) suggests that hospitals consider incorporating skilled nursing centers into their infection-prevention risk assessment and control strategies.

These collaborations, the authors suggest, can help prevent infection-related readmissions, lower costs, and improve quality of care and patient satisfaction. “The time is right to capitalize on the important changes in care delivery, including integration to overcome these barriers and break down existing silos,” the author say.

The article outlined several advantages to an integrated infection prevention program. These include:
--Shared resources that can improve policies and practices, enhance staff training, standardize prescribing practices, and improve efficiency and the quality of transitions.
--Timely communication between hospitals and nursing centers about emerging antibiotic-resistant pathogens that could help contain outbreaks and minimize regional transmission.
--Shared knowledge and data that can help target quality improvement efforts and identify infection-prevention challenges in each setting that they can work together to address.
--The use of evidence-based algorithms and antibiograms may lead to better treatments.
In the end, the authors suggest, integrated infection prevention programs “could be substantially more effective in enhancing patient safety and quality of life than the current framework in which these programs operate in silos.”
The idea of integrated infection prevention programs is “moving in the right direction,” says J. Kenneth Brubaker, MD, CMD, medical director of Masonic Village in Elizabethtown, Pa. This is especially key as health care moves beyond siloed settings to population-based care.
Toward this end, he says, “We need to collect meaningful data across settings for specific patient demographics [such as frail elders] and develop algorithms and antibiograms that help treat common infections.”
This stresses the need to collect and share data across settings. To help with this, Lona Mody, MD, lead author on the JAMA study, says that there are forms available for facilities to use. For example, she points to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Inter-facility Infection Control patient transfer form (www.cdc.gov/hai/pdfs/toolkits/InfectionControlTransferFormExample1.pdf). This is designed to assist in fostering communication during care transitions.
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