Our Clinical Directors Karen Wares and Martin Kiernan discuss their highlights from the recent ICPIC conference, their first in person conference overseas since the start of the pandemic!
ICPIC is the International Conference on Prevention and Infection Control. Now in its 6th year, this bi-annual event has been held in Geneva since 2011. The event attracted over 800 delegates from 82 countries (nearly 500 of which were in-person), the submission of 445 abstracts and offered 55 sessions covering a variety of topics such as COVID-19, antimicrobial resistance, catheter-related bloodstream infection, hand hygiene, behavioural change and also included early results of major studies in the field of IPC and innovative ideas. COVID-safety was to the fore with large rooms, good ventilation (Martin kept an eye on the CO2 levels!), spacing between delegates and daily lateral flow tests onsite with an extremely efficient app system.
The conference started with both Bertand Levrat, CEO of Hospital University of Geneva welcoming the audience and acknowledgement to all the Infection Prevention and Control Practitioners in the world for their essential and often unrecognised work during the COVID-19 crisis. This was followed by a letter from Emmanuel Macron, President of the French Republic, once again recognised the efforts of those involved and Benedetta Allegranzi, from World Health Organization, asked the audience to observe a moment of silence to all those that had lost their lives during the pandemic.
John McConnell, Editor-in-Chief of the Lancet Infectious Diseases keynote session focused on the impact of the COVID pandemic on publishing both in peer-reviewed journals and in pre-print forms. An enormous increase in the number of submissions and diversification in countries submitting was evident with 395 pieces of COVID-19 content published. In 2020 they had nearly 18 million article views and downloads which was a 3.75% increase in submissions and 6,760 submissions received. The collision of the free availability of scientific information with the popularity of social media at the time of a public health crisis, has led to a new audience consuming and commenting on ‘science’ which we need to be prepared to constructively engage with this new audience.
Hugo Sax, Bern University Hospital and University of Bern, delivered a session on behaviour change and peer teaching in the operating room (OR), highlighting how instrumental Operating Department Practitioners are in teaching staff groups and that early mutual understanding between professional groups improves professional collaboration and patient safety.
Walter Zingg and Lauren Clack started their BYO (Bring your own) Infection Prevention and Control Troubles session with ‘When an infection happens no one feels accountable’ yet Schreiber et al found that 35-55% of HAIs are preventable. The key take away message from the session was there are many challenges of behaviour change interventions and not to fall back to the easy steps of training and education when you want to implement new measures, many more effective measures exist, such as forcing functions, computerisation, automation, simplification and standardisation that we should consider.
Dr Amy Mathers, University of Virginia, discussed whole genome sequencing and the issue of plasmid-mediated outbreaks. Famous for her many research studies demonstrating the risk of multi-resistant gram negatives contaminating the healthcare environment from drainage systems, Dr Mathers went on to discuss the transmission of resistance and the difficulties posed in detecting transmission events when a plasmid causes an outbreak in which multiple species of bacteria are involved.
Hand hygiene, as always, had a strong focus throughout the conference with too many speakers to mention. Nasim Lotfinejad, University of Geneva Hospital, identified the gaps in the research agenda we require to focus on; simplifying the hand hygiene technique, reducing application time, better methods to assess ABHR quality, added value of antiseptics, effects of emollients on ABHR efficacy, comparing different ABHR types and many more. Current hand hygiene compliance is 40% in high income countries and <20 % in low-income countries so there is still plenty to do.
For more information: Hand hygiene in health care: 20 years of ongoing advances and perspectives
The theme throughout most of the sessions was how many shortcomings in the field of infection prevention and control the pandemic had revealed and how we’ve adapted during these unprecedented times. Particularly impressive also was the use of technology for the off-site speakers. The system worked flawlessly and it genuinely felt as if the speakers were in the room, especially in the Q&A sessions.
If you would like to experience a part of the ICPIC conference then you can access the abstracts from the ICPIC 2021 here. Including Mark Dalauidao from Kings College Hospital London, who presented on the use of fluorescence marking as a method to assess and improve cleaning and disinfection practices. Additionally, he was selected to present his poster orally during a poster walk hosted by Professor Walter Zingg.
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