Helping IPs Prepare for the Future
Kimberly Newman, RN, BSN, CIC
Regional Medical Center
Adapting to new surveillance guidelines may be one of the biggest challenges infection preventionists (IPs) will face in the next five-to-10 years. At the APIC Dallas Fort-Worth (DFW) Chapter, Kimberly Newman created a program to help local IPs understand and adopt CDC National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) surveillance guidelines.
After completing terms as president and chairman of the chapter in 2008, Kim was entitled to a leadership break. But she saw an opportunity through the chapter’s Surveillance Special Interest Group (SSIG) to help her colleagues prepare for mandatory NHSN reporting.
“I had a sense that we weren’t using the NHSN definitions consistently, and I knew this would make surveillance reporting very challenging,” said Kim, who became the SSIG chair in 2009.
A chapter survey confirmed that members were not interpreting definitions in the same way.
Working with a peer who was on the state NHSN advisory panel, Kim and SSIG group members began looking closely at the data Texas IPs need to report. They utilized the NHSN safety handbook and referenced national guidelines to help clarify definitions.
Each month, the SSIG met to discuss the guidelines, definitions and reporting processes. Members brought examples of surveillances they had struggled with for the group to discuss. “We learned a lot from each other,” said Kim.
The program that Kim and her group members created comprises three primary steps:
- Review surveillance definitions and ensure IPs and administrators understand them.
- Determine how to apply the definitions within your facility
- Ensure you have the necessary IT programs to report efficiently
Based on the success of the DFW chapter program, APIC invited Kim to be one of the national NHSN educators.
“Texas had become one of the states to mandate reporting, yet we had little guidance,” said Thomas Button, past APIC DFW chapter president. “Kim’s work has prevented a lot of confusion.”
As surveillance requirements become more complex, Kim stresses the importance of APIC involvement. “If you’ve never done surveillance before, it’s not easy,” she says. “You need to know your peers and the resources available to you. APIC will make your job easier.”