Health and Human Services comes to UT to talk infection control and antibiotics

Sara Johnson

Antibiotic stewardship expert Michael Fischer and epidemiologist Susana Baumann of the Texas Department of State Health Services discussed the latest initiatives in infection prevention and antibiotic stewardship at long-term care facilities at UT’s School of Nursing on Friday.

The program, hosted by the school’s Center for Excellence in Aging Services and Long Term Care, was targeted at both students and industry professionals. Both speakers gave insight on the current initiatives of their programs and their recommendations for how to put the needs shown by their data into practice, mostly from the Center for Disease Control’s Infection Control Assessment and Response program.

“(Infection Control Assessment and Response) is essentially a voluntary, collaborative visit where we come in and say, ‘Hey, let’s look at your program, let’s see what we can improve,’” Baumann said. “Just from another perspective.” 

Between 2016 and 2018, Infection Control Assessment and Response inspections were funded as their own program. Now, they are part of daily assessments completed by the Center for Disease Control. According to the data collected in that time, 17 percent of nursing homes in Texas have infection control training that passes Infection Control Assessment and Response standards, compared to 46 percent of nursing homes nationwide.

Fischer also said there is a need for more long-term care practices. Focusing on standardized policies and procedures means fewer overall prescriptions of antibiotics and more meaningful prescriptions. 

The need to change nursing homes’ antibiotic practices is supported by data collected by the Department of Health and Human Services on seven Core Elements of Antibiotic Stewardship in Nursing Homes, which include leadership commitment, accountability, drug expertise, action, tracking, reporting and education. Only 7 percent of practices, according to the report shown Friday, satisfy all seven elements.

“There’s plenty of documentation of leadership support,” Fischer said. “We’re trending upwards from the average on implementation, which is good.”

Events like this not only give students extra insight into where their field is headed, but also serve as a chance to talk to professionals about their industry, said Beth Stevie, advanced practice registered nursing graduate student. 

“It’s a good networking opportunity,” Stevie said. “It fits my schedule, and I have an interest in infectivity.”

The next event sponsored for students by the center is a talk on older adult community care and federal policy on Feb. 7.


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