By design, multiple invasive procedures are performed in the intensive care unit (ICU). Although great care is taken to control morbidity and forestall mortality, this invasive environment places ICU patients and staff at immense risk of nosocomial (hospital-acquired) infection. The role of the infection control professional (ICP) within the ICU involves data collection, dissemination of data with feedback, expertise in the investigation of outbreaks, product evaluation proficiency, and fluid consultation aptitude. This article provides an inside view of how specialty infection control staff and ICU staff can optimize infection control to decrease the incidence of nosocomial infections. A description of what the ICP does not do in the ICU is also given, providing a clear guideline for how these two disciplines can best provide a safe intensive care experience.
Director of Infection Control, Trinity Medical Center, Carrollton, Texas, Tenet HealthSystem, RHD Memorial Medical Center, Dallas, Texas