Too much data documentation may distract hospital infection preventionists from their main job—reducing the prevalence of hospital-acquired conditions, a new case report suggests.
Two full-time infection-prevention specialists at one 355-bed acute-care community hospital logged an estimated 118 hours a month (about five hours a day) at their desks, solely on public reporting. That was in lieu of what they preferred to do: rounding, staff and patient education, product analysis and safety preparedness.
“That's very difficult to do while sitting behind a desk. It's frustrating,” noted Sharon Parrillo, assistant director of infection prevention at the Robert Wood Johnson Hospital Somerset, Somerville, N.J.
Mandatory reporting is indeed valuable, she said. “But as it continues to evolve, we need to look at our programs and (ask), 'Do we have enough resources to carry them out in addition to the day-to-day activities we are responsible for?' ”
The idea to estimate the times popped into Parillo's head one day as she was filling out a paper-reporting form from the National Healthcare Safety Network. At the very bottom of the form, in fine print, she noticed the time burden for filling it out had already been estimated by the NHSN.
She pulled other forms associated with infection preventionist duties—like reporting on MRSA, urinary tract and surgical site infections—then multiplied the time burden by the number of events she and the other infection-prevention specialist on staff had actually filed reports on during four separate months.
Using that calculation she estimated the mean times they had spent documenting nine separate issues. For example, they used 160 hours for device denominators; nearly 114 hours for surgical site infections; nearly 75 hours for bloodstream infections; and 50 hours for urinary tract infections.
“I knew things took a lot of time, but seeing it on paper is really startling,” Parillo said. Her findings will be presented Saturday during the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology annual conference, which runs June 27 through 29 in Nashville.