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Chapter 13.2 : Laboratory Support for Infection Prevention: Collaboration with Benefits for All
The modern discipline of hospital infection control (infection prevention [IP]) began in the 1970s, was refined in the 1980s, and has continued to evolve as an integral part of the health care provider’s overall program of continuous quality improvement. Concomitant with the evolution of infection prevention programs (IPPs) has been the evolution of health care with the introduction of new modalities of care that carry with them a high risk for health care-associated infections (HAI). Indeed, HAIs represent one of the most common complications of medical care, affecting 5 to 10% of patients admitted to acute-care hospitals worldwide. These HAIs are associated with enormous morbidity, mortality, and expense, resulting in the more than 90,000 deaths each year in the United States alone. Because prevention requires the ability to detect infections when they occur, the clinical microbiology laboratory (CML) is inextricably linked to any comprehensive IPP. To do their jobs effectively and efficiently, the CML and IPP personnel must work as a team, using the expertise from each discipline to improve patient care. As always, the CML must be able to detect and identify microorganisms so that the clinicians can diagnose and treat established infections and the IP team can monitor, prevent, and control HAIs.