Covering the Bases The Surgery Center in Franklin, Wis- consin, divvies up its infection preven- tion responsibilities between several team members, says Executive Direc- tor Fawn Esser-Lipp, CASC. Most of the work is overseen by a senior nurse acting as the ASC’s infection control coordinator. “She is responsible for reviewing and remaining current with infection control and prevention guide- lines, policies and procedures.” The ASC’s operating room (OR)

Collaboration Key to Infection Prevention

Responsibilities can be divvied up among team members BY ROBERT KURTZ

T he COVID-19 pandemic fur-

ther put into focus that prevent- ing infections depends upon everyone working in an ASC, says Debra Yoder, RN, director of clinical operations and corporate compliance officer for Sur- gical Management Professionals in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. “Patients come to our facilities with the expec- tation that their experience will leave them better off than when they came in. Keeping our patients free of infec- tion is a big part of ASCs delivering on their promise of providing safe, high-quality care.”

While making safety-focused deci- sions, such as performing proper hand- washing and not coming into work when ill, falls on the shoulders of all ASC staff, there are specific infection prevention-related responsibilities that

must be completed for a center to meet federal guidelines and accreditation requirements. How ASCs approach tackling these responsibilities varies from facility to facility. “In larger facilities, responsibilities are typically spread out among mul- tiple team members. Smaller facilities may assign most tasks to a single per- son, such as the director of nursing,” Yoder says. “Each ASC must have a person named as the infection con- trol nurse, approved by the board and with demonstrated education to meet accreditation needs.” Yoder assists her ASCs as an expert from the manage- ment company. “Regardless of how your ASC delegates infection preven- tion responsibilities, you must ensure that you are meeting requirements. That will need to be a team effort.”


manager, who is responsible for help- ing the coordinator implement proto- cols and best ensure staff are follow- ing through on what the coordinator requests, supports the infection con- trol coordinator. While the coordina- tor and OR manager handle the bulk of the infection prevention work, two other team members also share responsibilities. The safety officer becomes involved when staff raise concerns around infection prevention and Esser-Lipp makes sure that the center meets its Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requirements.

“My most significant infection

prevention-related responsibility is probably the bloodborne pathogen exposure control plan, which is regu- lated under OSHA,” Esser-Lipp says. “I also work on making sure I stay current and keep our staff up to date on all OSHA requirements. I share those guidelines with our infection control coordinator.” At Pinnacle Surgery Center in Col- orado Springs, Colorado, an infection prevention nurse oversees much of the ASC’s responsibilities, says Clinical Director Sandra Beers. This includes teaching staff about infection preven- tion and what is required for compli- ance. Additional team members ensure that the ASC achieves compliance. “That is the responsibility of our quality assurance and performance improvement (QAPI) committee,"

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