Infection Prevention and Control

Proactive evaluations, investigations, and plan development to be prepared for the next outbreak and to reduce infection dangers

Infections can cause patients serious illness, or even death; yet, half of all healthcare-acquired infections (HAIs) are preventable. The recent COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing healthcare challenges further highlighted the essential need for comprehensive and proactive infection prevention and control measures to ensure the safe care of patients and to protect healthcare personnel in acute care, ambulatory surgery centers, and long-term care aging services.

Worldwide, the annual number of HAIs climbs to hundreds of millions of patients. HAIs are now the most frequent adverse events in healthcare delivery, costing an estimated $9.8 billion annually, leaving lives, your organization's bottom line, and its reputation, at risk. To illustrate the severity of these developments, we need only take a closer look at last year's analysis released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC recently published an analysis in the Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology journal evaluating the impact of COVID-19 on HAIs in 2021, revealing that, in 2021, the following were experienced:

  • An increase in central line-associated bloodstream infections in comparison to infection levels in 2019. These included catheter-associated urinary tract infections and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.
  • A large increase in ventilator-associated events, with standardized infection ratios being 51 percent higher in the first quarter and 60 percent higher in the third quarter in comparison to 2019.
  • Hospital infection control was greatly impacted by the sudden arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic. There was an increase in the potential of device-associated infections spurred by the pandemic, which was brought on by a combination of longer hospital stays, more frequent usage of devices for treatment, additional co-morbidities, higher patient acuity levels, and frequently changing hospital practices as COVID-19 guidance continued to change, making hospital infection control more difficult in the process.

With this in mind, there are also revealing statistics from the report that demonstrate how changes in operations can positively impact patient and personnel health. The same analysis from the CDC revealed that there was a strong decline in Clostridioides difficile infection. This is associated with the gradual change of how COVID-19 guidance changed over time, focusing on areas like hand hygiene, wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) to prevent the further spread of the virus, and comprehensive, effective cleaning in healthcare settings.

Facilities now know the importance of staying prepared ahead of time. With much at stake, ECRI Infection Prevention and Control services can help you create a cultural shift that drives real change in thought, actions, and outcomes, and ensure that your healthcare facility is prepared when disaster strikes. With the right infection control consultant supporting your organization and facilities moving forward, you can plan ahead for these types of events and optimize your approach, identifying weak areas in your organization and ensuring that everything is in place for an effective response.

Outbreak preparedness

The COVID-19 outbreak was an eye-opening experience for many healthcare workers in the United States. Without the proper isolation precautions, protocols, and materials needed to treat patients in a healthcare setting as well as protect their healthcare workers (vaccines, disinfection products for hand hygiene, PPE, etc.), organizations have faced an unprecedented threat. Regardless of whether the disease in question is MRSA, tuberculosis, pneumonia, or something entirely new, you want to rest assured that your facility is capable of containing said illness and protecting both patients and healthcare workers from infectious disease, all while providing quality patient care. As infection prevention consultants and infection control consultants, we're here to help you prepare ahead for these specific needs and challenges.

Assess your organization's level of preparedness for the next infectious outbreak, including COVID-19, monkeypox, influenza, measles, and Ebola before an issue occurs. ECRI provides consulting and self-assessment tools to identify weaknesses and opportunities for improvement. By collecting perspectives from clinical and non-clinical staff, physicians, and leaders, we are able to evaluate the degree of preparedness for infectious and communicable outbreaks. We analyze collected data and develop robust outbreak preparedness plans based on the latest standards, recommendations, and guidelines, and we generate reports and recommendations to facilitate improvement. There's no telling when the next virus might make an appearance or when a lack of equipment could put your patients at risk as you respond. Keep your personnel, your patients, and their family members safe with the right outbreak preparedness support.

Evaluation and investigation

ECRI Infection Prevention and Control services partners with you to identify vulnerabilities, establish or enhance best practices, and leverage technology intelligently across all care settings. This includes infection prevention, antibiotic and diagnostic stewardship, and beyond. Your ECRI consultants will analyze your organization's culture, infrastructure, practices, systems, and technology to identify gaps that leave you at risk. Taking standard precautions might be enough for pathogens that aren't extremely contagious or deadly, but as new illnesses spread and put you and your personnel at risk, knowing that you have the proper systems in place to navigate these viruses is critical to the safety of patients and employees alike.

Our consulting helps you respond to a multitude of issues related to infection control and prevention and proactively take action to mitigate infection risk. Our certified Infection Preventionists conduct on-site or virtual consultations. Our staff of medical device engineers, epidemiologists,, accident and forensics specialists, and clinicians review findings and provide additional recommendations, and if needed, we will also respond on-site or virtually. Our combined years of experience and expertise serve to help your facilities benefit from current best practices in healthcare.

ECRI Infection Prevention and Control services support sterile processing departments whether in an acute or ambulatory care setting to offer on-site or remote consulting. This service evaluates surgical instrument cleaning and sterilization processes, procedures, devices, water quality, and the facility. ECRI provides support to Infection Preventionists, and Directors of Safety, Risk, and Quality in implementing recommended changes.

This provides your facilities with the support you need to guarantee a better quality of care and infection prevention moving forward.

Plan development

While infection prevention is a top priority for ambulatory surgery centers and aging service facilities, resources and expertise may be limited. With ECRI's Infection Prevention and Control service, you can access the breadth of knowledge to create, validate, and streamline your infection prevention plans based on your facility's unique needs and challenges. Our multidisciplinary team will evaluate your current plans, create new ones, implement action plans, and educate your staff about how to avoid infections and outbreaks in the future.

For most healthcare facilities, this can include learning how to take the necessary precautions in the event that a potentially deadly virus enters the hospital environment, properly using and disposing of infectious materials so as to preserve the health of staff and patients (as well as learning proper disinfection and sterilization practices), and following best practices of infection prevention. If your systems and plans were overwhelmed by the sudden appearance of COVID-19 and the subsequent high infection rate, this is an excellent sign to improve your approach before another incident occurs.

Why ECRI

ECRI's Infection Prevention and Control services provide trusted guidance in known areas of infection prevention and control to protect your patients, residents, staff, and visitors, and to minimize the risk of potential harm. These services bring together unparalleled resources and decades of experience in infection prevention, patient safety, accident investigation, and device evaluation. We have a unique combination of subject matter experts in risk, safety, and quality. Each of them offers decades of invaluable front-line experience, medical device safety knowledge, and the most comprehensive adverse safety and medication event data. No one else offers these unique and complete solutions to help you with infection control in healthcare facilities.

As Marcus Schabacker, MD, PhD, president, and CEO of ECRI says:

“ECRI is focused on keeping residents, patients, and healthcare workers safe as the coronavirus pandemic spreads. Vulnerable populations, like long-term care residents, are increasingly in harm’s way."

ECRI uses research-driven strategies and action-oriented plans to help you improve patient safety through infection reduction and mitigation. We tailor our consulting services to address your organization's specific issues, identify opportunities to reduce your infection risk, and provide guidance and ongoing support that enables you to make meaningful improvements quickly. We also offer many dedicated resources to help you and your staff expand your knowledge base. As infection prevention consultants, we seek to provide you with the most knowledgeable support to help you unburden your organization and defend it against future threats.

Schedule time to talk to an expert

Unprecedented viruses and diseases can take hold of the population rapidly and without warning, putting hospitals that are underprepared for these types of situations at risk of improperly caring for patients and putting their staff at risk of infection in the process. Without the proper preparation, protocols, and infection prevention strategies, your facilities may once again be overwhelmed with patients and staff who have become infected with the virus themselves. Don't wait until it's too late. ECRI is here to offer effective infection prevention services and infection control services designed for your needs.

If you've been looking for infection prevention consultants and infection control consultants that can lend their expertise to bettering your facilities, schedule time to talk with an expert and discover how ECRI can support you by filling out the form below.