A new, multi-day course is being designed by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid to help nursing homes prepare for an infection preventionist requirement included in the revised Final Rules of participation.

CMS outlined class topics in a memo to state survey directors earlier this month.

Implementation of Phases 1 and 2 focused on antibiotic use and some infection control; Phase 3 will require all federally supported skilled nursing facilities to have a trained infection preventionist on staff by November 2019.

Providers have questioned who might best fill that role, whether it would need to be a full-time position and what kind of training would qualify an employee.

CMS says its free course, which will be available online and on-demand by spring 2019 will provide “specialized training in infection prevention and control.”

Topics to be covered include infection preventionists’ responsibilities, infection surveillance, hand hygiene, medication safety, antibiotic stewardship and more.

Meanwhile, a new position paper issued Monday by the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology, the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA), and the Society of Infectious Disease Pharmacists says infection prevention and control and antibiotic stewardship programs are inextricably linked.

It calls on infection preventionists and healthcare epidemiologists to promote the effective use of antimicrobials in collaboration with other healthcare professionals.

“The issues surrounding the prevention and control of infections are intrinsically linked with the issues associated with the use of antimicrobial agents and the proliferation and spread of multidrug-resistant organisms,” said Mary Lou Manning, PhD, CRNP, CIC, FSHEA, FAPIC, lead author of the new paper. “The vital work of IPC and AS programs cannot be performed independently. They require interdependent and coordinated action across multiple and overlapping disciplines and clinical settings to achieve the larger purpose of keeping patients safe from infection and ensuring that effective antibiotic therapy is available for future generations.”