Infection Prevention and Control

Infection Prevention and Control is a small department with a long reach – one that touches every patient admitted to
The University of Kansas Health System.

IPAC"Preventing infections is a key component in providing a safe patient care experience," said Amanda Gartner, RN, Quality Outcomes and Infection Prevention Control (IPAC) nurse manager.

The department's primary goal is to continuously improve patient safety by reducing and eliminating healthcare-associated infections, the No. 1 complication among hospitalized patients nationwide.

With a mission statement of "Partnering to Prevent Infections," the six-person IPAC – five of them nurses – works with departments health system-wide to help establish and maintain the safest possible patient care environments.

Education is vital, Gartner said. "We promote awareness that infection prevention is everyone's responsibility," from physicians and caregivers to transporters and dietary staff, even families and visitors.

IPAC's work is evident:

  • The health system is ranked among the top seven U.S. academic medical centers for quality and safety, based on the most recent University HealthSystem Consortium study.
  • In October 2014, IPAC helped establish and implement rigorous protocols to ensure patient and staff safety when a suspected Ebola patient was treated. (Lab tests eventually confirmed the patient did not have the virus.)
  • Hand-hygiene compliance among health system staff is consistently at 90 percent and higher, well above the national average. The high rate is due in part to IPAC's work with nurses, physicians and other caregivers.

Led by Medical Director Michael Luchi, MD, the department in 2014 also developed the "Safe Zone." It allows staff to step into an isolation patient's room within a small, designated area without donning a disposable isolation gown.

During IPAC testing, the initiative was shown to improve staff response time to patients and is projected to reduce, by up to 20 percent, the approximately 2 million gowns hospital staff use annually.

"Every day is a new challenge as we find more ways to make our patients even safer," Gartner said.