October 2021 – The Journal of Healthcare Contracting
The impact of healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) is a growing problem amidst the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic in post-acute care settings like nursing homes, assisted living, home health and hospice. It is ideal to have a dedicated and trained infection preventionist (IP) on staff and ensure facilities have an infection prevention program that is reviewed and updated annually.
“Healthcare-associated infections are the fifth leading cause of death across all healthcare settings, not just acute care,” said Amanda Thornton, clinical science liaison at PDI. She was the lead presenter for a McKesson Clinical Connection webinar on “Infection Prevention Resources for Post-Acute Care: What You Need to Know for 2021 and Beyond.”
She suggested that post-acute facilities need ongoing systems of surveillance and those with 100 or more beds need a full-time IP. Long-term care facilities must use the CDC’s Long Term Care Facility (LTCF) Component to track infections and prevention process measures, systematically, to identify problems, improve care and determine progress toward national healthcare-associated infection goals. This must be reported back to the National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN).
LTC components in NHSN include the HAI module, LabID module and Prevention Process Measures module.
“It’s the first experience with NHSN for LTCs,” Thornton said. Nursing homes, skilled nursing, chronic care and developmental disability facilities report in LTCF, while assisted living facilities can only report in the Prevention Process Measures module.
NHSN provides healthcare facilities with a secure reporting platform for reporting outcomes and process measures in a systematic way. Reported data is immediately available for use in strengthening local and national surveillance, monitoring trends in infection rates, assisting in identifying resource insecurities and informing progress toward infection prevention goals. Examples of data reported include:
- Counts of residents and facility personnel newly positive for COVID-19 based on viral test results.
- COVID-19 vaccination status of residents newly positive for COVID-19.
- Re-infections in residents and facility personnel previously infected with COVID-19.
- COVID-19 related death counts among residents and facility personnel.
- Staffing shortages.
- Availability and surge capacity use of PPE and alcohol-based hand rub.
- Monoclonal therapeutic availability and use.
Once a LTC facility is registered with NHSN, the Secure Access Management Services (SAMS) grid card must be used to continue with the NHSN enrollment process for the facility. The identity verification process with SAMS must be completed prior to gaining access to continue the NHSN enrollment process for the facility. A facility should only enroll once into the LTCF Component.