Things to Consider When Hiring an Infection Control Consultant

Things to Consider When Hiring an Infection Control Consultant

Certification – is the Consultant certified in Infection Control?  The Certification Board of Infection Control offers the only credential for Infection Preventionists, which is CIC.  The Organization for Safety, Asepsis, and Prevention is working on creating a credential for dental infection control, although there doesn’t seem to be a completion date at this time.  

In addition to certification, the Association for Professionals in Infection control and Epidemiology (APIC) recognizes outstanding professionals who have accomplished specific milestones.  This recognition is known as Fellow of APIC (FAPIC). According to APIC: “Fellow of APIC status is a distinction of honor for infection preventionists who are not only advanced practitioners of infection prevention practice, but also leaders within the field.”  This voluntary credential signifies someone who has gone above and beyond in their field.  

Education – does the consultant have healthcare specific basic education such as nursing, medical lab technology, etc.?  Have they obtained education beyond that basic education? Although not required for infection control specifically, continuing formal education denotes a commitment to personal improvement and the acquisition of new knowledge.  A commitment to gaining knowledge will almost certainly translate into staying current with prevention practices, guidelines, federal regulations and survey standards.

Educator –  Will the Consultant educate staff  throughout the visit or simply note deficiencies?  Although it may take the Consultant a little longer to complete the assessment if they are educating throughout the visit, your staff, facility, and your patients will benefit from the additional information provided by the Consultant.

Some other key questions to ask include:

  • Can someone from the facility accompany the Consultant?   
  • Is the Consultant willing to explain to the facility member accompanying them what is being assessed, what is right or wrong and the rationale?  
    • The explanation must include the rationale so that healthcare personnel understand why practice should change, a policy was revised, etc.  This helps to alleviate the feeling that the change is the ‘flavor of the month’ and will go away. By explaining the rationale to the facility’s point of contact, that person will be able to assist facility personnel to understand the reason for the required actions.

Experience – Experience shouldn’t only focus on years of experience in infection control or as a consultant, but overall experience in healthcare.  What is the Consultant’s experience with your type of healthcare facility and with the issue or problem of concern to you? For example, if surgical site infections are higher than you would like, you may prefer to hire a consultant with perioperative experience.  For dental practices, you definitely want a consultant that is familiar with the fine points of dental infection control since it is significantly different from other outpatient arenas.

Availability – How difficult has it been to contact the consultant: were phone calls, texts, or emails returned promptly?  What is the consultant’s availability? For example, can a visit be completed with enough time to allow you to make any additional corrections before a return survey or before you are due for a state visit?  Some consulting firms may not be able to make last-minute trips, no matter how pressing your needs!

Fees – What do the fees cover besides the obvious assessment visit?  What should you expect after the visit is completed? Consider the following, based on your expectations and needs:

  • Do the fees include an Outbrief, if one is desired?
  • How will your facility be made aware of any issues or problems noted during the visit?  Will the Consultant provide a detailed report with findings and recommendations or a short checklist with issues noted?  
  • If a detailed report will be provided after the visit, when should you expect to receive the report?