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advanced practice nursing, clinical nurse specialist, infection control



  1. Pintar, Paula A. MSN, CIC


Purpose: Hospital quality and financial sustainability rely on reducing healthcare-associated events/infections, length of stay, and readmissions. This project focused on designing an integrated role for the clinical nurse specialist (CNS) and the infection prevention professional (IPP) to proactively manage the delivery of evidence-based practice to high-risk surgical patients.


Background: The healthcare industry is in the midst of a paradigm shift driven by changing health policy focusing on quality indicators, patient satisfaction, and lowering costs. Coupled with these indicators is the expectation and responsibility to provide evidence-based practice at all levels of the healthcare continuum. This paradigm shift places healthcare facilities in a very competitive atmosphere as they rally for the revenue of a fixed payer mix.


Description: A literature search using CINHAL, PubMed, and the CNS national listserve databases was completed to identify if there was any previously written information available on an integrated role of the CNS/IPP. An online business plan template was used to communicate the significance, implications, and return on organizational investment to practice with establishing this role. Chronic health conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, congestive heart failure, and colonization with multidrug-resistant organisms can place patients at an increased risk for developing a surgical site infection or complications. The CNS/IPP will proactively manage these risk factors, including the patient and family in a preventive care model to manage the acute inpatient high-risk surgical patient. Care management will include coordinated, collaborative, and consultative follow-up by the CNS/IPP in the acute care, long-term care facilities, and home settings.


Innovation: The infection prevention skill set brings a level of clinical expertise that makes a unique CNS. The IPP is immersed in using epidemiological principles that examine the impact of comorbidities and the added risk that can contribute to developing a surgical site infection. This CNS/IPP incorporates the CNS Spheres of Influence Model and the Association of Professionals in Infection Prevention Competency Model. This combination advanced practice nurse uses a nurse-managed model of care focused on patient/family education, prevention, and self-care management. Therefore, this specific and specialized practice will bring value to the organization by improving financial outcomes through reducing infections, readmission rates, and length of stay.


Outcome: By providing this level of focused care, patient satisfaction will improve and system financial stability will be supported by decreasing hospital readmissions, length of stay, and other hospital-acquired conditions that the surgical candidate is prone to developing.


Conclusion: The critical juncture in healthcare is providing opportunities for innovation by examining the CNS role and considering the feasibility of pairing it with the infection preventionist skills. This pairing provides an unprecedented opportunity to improve patient outcomes across the continuum of care. This provider has the ability to influence the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services quality indicators in a positive way by using implementation science to partner with system/organization stakeholders that focuses on prevention rather than reactive care processes.


Implications: The dynamic trends in healthcare continue to drive "intrepreneurial," innovative, and creative ways of thinking; provide clinical practice that has the ability to perform nimbly; and maintain a proactive vision to provide quality care to a diverse patient population. This CNS/IPP role meets the dynamic proactive planning that will shift with patient, system, and nursing needs to deliver cost-effective managed care to improve the health of our patients.