1. Alexander, Mary MA, RN, CRNI(R), CAE, FAAN

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Over the past few months, INS has offered different types of educational programming designed to assist infusion therapy professionals in reducing healthcare-associated infections (HAIs). "Building an Infusion Alliance" is our effort to expand the role of the infusion specialist, encourage multidisciplinary healthcare teams, and improve organizations' fiscal profiles-all while creating positive outcomes for our patients.

Figure. Mary Alexand... - Click to enlarge in new windowFigure. Mary Alexander, MA, RN, CRNI(R), CAE, FAAN

INS has previously produced resources to help nurses make the case for IV teams. "Building an Infusion Alliance" goes beyond building IV teams, although many of the steps are similar. An infusion alliance combines research, business planning, resource development, market and financial analysis, benchmarking, and outcomes monitoring.


The starting point for an alliance is nurses. We are an integral part of the healthcare team, on the front lines of patient care. Infusion nurses can take the lead in organizing the team, which can include physicians, pharmacists, radiologists, administrators, finance officers, and others, depending on the organization. It is up to us to explain to other healthcare professionals, administration, and our patients what our role is and why it is so important for patients' well-being.


This is what we can do as a member of the team:


* For patients-we provide timely completion of therapy, consistency of care, prevent catheter-related bloodstream infections, and improve overall patient satisfaction.


* For other nurses-we improve general staffing needs, especially where there is a shortage of nurses. We enhance collaborative efforts with the other members of the healthcare team.


* For administrators-we help to reduce risk and liability, particularly in response to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) rules on denial of reimbursement for hospital-acquired infections. Our contributions ultimately increase reimbursement for revenue-generating services and contain costs.



Because alliances are cost-effective, it is possible to make the case that alliances are needed for the bottom line. We need to determine the value of the services infusion nurses provide and show the value added and cost efficiency.


Benchmarking data help to make the case. When research is performed, data show that we provide better patient outcomes. We need to increase the amount of time doing research and benchmarking against other organizations.


The practice of infusion nursing is constantly expanding, as shown in the INS position paper, "The Role of the Registered Nurse in Determining Distal Tip Placement of Peripherally Inserted Central Catheters by Chest Radiograph" (see page 19 in this issue). The 2002 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines for preventing catheter-related bloodstream infections support using trained personnel to insert and care for patients with IVs.1 Advanced technology is helping us to be even more precise when inserting vascular access devices. As nurses are educated in new technologies, they take on greater responsibility and contribute even more to the coordination of care across the healthcare continuum.


As infusion nurses, we know the value of our specialty. Our challenge is to advocate for ourselves and to educate our colleagues and employers about the need to join forces and work together to reduce HAIs and improve patient health and safety and, consequently, the financial well-being of healthcare organizations.


Mary Alexander, MA, RN, CRNI(R), CAE, FAAN


INS Chief Executive Officer Editor, Journal of Infusion Nursing




1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Guidelines for the prevention of intravascular catheter-related infections. MMWR. 51(RR-10); Published August 9, 2002. Accessed December 8, 2009. [Context Link]