What to Look for in an Infection Prevention Consultant

Citations happen. It is part of our industry. While this is obviously not an ideal situation, I wanted to give some guidance if it does happen. If you have received a 2567 CMS or state citation, you may be required to hire an infection prevention consultant as part of the plan of correction.

Hiring an IP consultant, while it will check off the box and get you back in compliance, can actually be an opportunity instead of a headache. Someone who can lead you, help you, and guide you to not only pass your survey, but identify and fill any gaps in the IPC program.

One of the first things to look for when hiring the consultant, is that they understand your environment. Some IP consultants know acute care or hospital protocol extensively, but often this will not translate easily to your setting. A consultant specific to long-term care will better understand the intricacies of the industry and your specific challenges.

This will align with somebody understanding your culture. When a consultant understands your culture, they will recognize the obstacles associated with a memory care unit or a dementia unit, among other areas that are specific to long-term care.

The consultant’s length of long-term care experience is important. This will build on the last two points, that their understanding of our industry is extensive. If possible, getting a referral will make the search easier, especially if the person who refers you can speak to their success in remediation. The experience is important not only on the floor dealing with the processes, but also in conducting a root cause analysis and working with the leadership team on the quality assurance and performance improvement plan.

While experience and knowledge are obviously key traits for an IP consultant, you want somebody who empathizes with your situation. There is no question our industry is punitive, and some citations can be nit-picky. You want somebody who will fight for you, especially if you decide to apply the informal dispute resolution (IDR) process. Your IP consultant should be a real partner to you. Somebody who truly cares about helping your staff, and somebody who truly cares about the well-being of all those in the building. Having a partner that will spend that one-on-one time with your staff, from clinical to housekeeping will truly support and reinforce your IP program.

While I hope you don’t receive this citation, it happens. I hope this will help when choosing the right IP consultant for your facility and remediation plan. Thank you to all our healthcare worker superheroes out there. Be safe and be well.

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