Creating an infection prevention program from the ground up
Fiaz Ahamed, MBBS, MD
Al Rass General Hospital
Al Rass, Saudi Arabia
Resourcefulness and determination enabled Dr. Fiaz Ahamed to create an infection prevention program that has improved patient care at hospitals across his province.
In 2005, the infection control department at the 256-bed Al Rass General Hospital had just one nurse with minimal infection prevention knowledge. As a newly hired clinical microbiologist, Dr. Ahamed began noticing significant amounts of Gram-negative bacteria in hospital clinical samples. He alerted the hospital director, and was soon given approval to take charge of the hospital’s infection prevention and control efforts. "I was starting from zero, but this opportunity inspired me," said Ahamed. "I got to come out of the lab and explore my subject."
Ahamed first rounded extensively to understand the root causes of the hospital’s infection challenges. "I observed many issues, including hand hygiene non-compliance and improper segregation of infected patients," he said.
With no mentors or Internet access, Dr. Ahamed utilized his library to find resources that would help him formulate a strategic plan. He created a hospital infection control committee and used CDC guidelines to create policies and procedures. Originally 80 pages, the Al Rass policy and procedure manual is now 240 pages. Dr. Ahamed conducted monthly lectures with hospital nurses, and rounded with them regularly. He also trained sisters to monitor prevalence rates and begin benchmarking.
"Initially the staff looked at us as policemen," said Dr. Ahamed, "but I emphasized a ‘no punishment/no blame’ culture. I told my staff, ‘No matter what you see, keep smiling and don’t call out mistakes publicly’. Rather, keep humbly training staff until correct procedure becomes habit."
Using this approach, Dr. Ahamed and his team developed many successful programs. Local hospitals invited Dr. Ahamed to share his experience. He conducted workshops at each, and is leading efforts to enable benchmarking.
"We’ve generated improvements for our patients, as well as appreciation among our staff and neighboring hospitals," said Dr. Ahamed.