The Australasian College for Infection Prevention and Control Conference 2012

By Adriana Rehbein
Monday, 04 February, 2013

The 2012 Australasian College for Infection Prevention and Control Conference is the first conference of the new College. The program focused on recent research findings and innovative strategies that will define infection surveillance, prevention and control beyond and into the challenging future for Infection Prevention and Control, writes Steve Burke.
The Australasian College for Infection Prevention and Control, which supersedes the Australian Infection Control Association, has been created in response to growing global recognition of the importance of effective infection prevention, and the potential for significant improvement in the implementation of standards across Australasia.
The College draws together the various State and Territory infection control associations formerly in AICA and expands this to include members from New Zealand, the Pacific Region and South East Asia. The purpose is to provide a “peak body speaking with one voice.” The College is open to all infection prevention and control experts in any discipline.
The creation of this college aims to give providing professionals working in this field peer support, networking opportunities and the chance to showcase their work across the region.
The Vision of the College is to be the peak body and voice for infection prevention and control professionals focussed on providing leadership and promoting education and evidence based practice outcomes for a healthy community.
The 2012 Conference is the first conference of the new College. The program focused on recent research findings and innovative strategies that will define infection surveillance, prevention and control beyond and into the challenging future for Infection
Prevention and Control.
Day one started with everyone being welcomed to the land in a traditional indigenous welcoming ceremony and then Claire Boardman, Immediate Past President of ACIPC opened the conference – deputising for the President, Elizabeth Gillespie who was attending International federation of Infection Control Conference in Croatia.
Over 500 delegates attended the three days of plenary and concurrent sessions. In addition to the conference sessions over 150 delegates also participated in the full day of workshops that preceded the conference proper.
The panel of International and local speakers canvassed a wide range of topics outlining the particular challenges in realising the significance of such simple strategies as effective hand washing, care in the use of antibiotics and the need to continually review processes and procedures.
Speakers included a mix of international and local experts who covered the plenary and some concurrent sessions.
The international speakers included Peter Hoffman - United Kingdom, Dr Sally Roberts - New Zealand, Mr Martin Kieran – United Kingdom, Dr Dale Fisher – Singapore, Lauren Clack – Switzerland, Andreas Voss - The Netherlands and Emma Burnett - United Kingdom.
The international speakers were joined by a panel of local experts including Dr Marilyn Cruickshank and Sue Reid - Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health, Professor Chris Baggoley - Chief Medical Officer for Australia, Professor Tom Riley -
University of Western Australia and PathWest, Western Australia, Australia.
Dr Marilyn Cruickshank, Dr Deborough Macbeth – Gold Coast Heath Services Unit and Marija Juraja, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Adelaide also conducted the workshop sessions.
Dr Cruikshank facilitated two of the four workshop sessions - National Accreditation: Standard 3 - Preventing and controlling health care associated infections: Are you ready?. The second was an ICP Master Class”- Building cliniciancapacity for experienced infection control professionals Keeping with the theme of skills development Marija Juraja’s workshop - Back to Basics - Novice class: Developing an Infection prevention and control program in 2012 was designed to assist the newly appointed ICOP to establish and implement effective programs in their organisation.
Credentialing was theme of the fourth Workshop - “Building capacity, accountability & credibility”. This was facilitated by Dr Deborough Macbeth and Kathy Dempsey focused on the College’s self-regulatory Credentialing process that recognises the high level of competence of those working in infection prevention and control demonstrates the value that is placed on this speciality.
The scientific program included a wide and diverse range of topics encompassing many aspects of clinical practice, research, surveillance and way beyond.
One international speaker – Emma Burnett Lecturer and Researcher in Infection Prevention, University of Dundee, School of Nursing and Midwifery, United Kingdom said that she was very encouraged by all the innovative and collaborative work currently being undertaken all over the world, to ensure that patient safety remains right at the heart of infection prevention and control practice and research… Every single session I attended, I learned of significant key takehome messages that were both extremely informative and insightful. In addition to the oral presentations, the high standard of the poster presentations was incredible and I was very inspired by them all.””
Whilst it is not possible to précis all the papers here, videos of keynote speakers and selected sessions are available on the conference website Some of the key ideas presented over the sessions included the need to work to a national framework for standards, the contribution and responsibility that Australia has to the region in using our resources to assist surrounding nations, recognition of the problems posed by Clostridium Difficile and how we all have a responsibility to make the community aware of the need for antibiotic stewardship.
Over 40 Posters were accepted for display – covering areas such as auditing of hand washing, use of alcohol based wipes, managing process and behaviour change and techniques for communicating and reinforcing infection prevention and control messages to health care staff and the community.
The submitted abstracts covered areas as diverse as the impact of design, process revision and the continuing need to change behaviour. One area of real interest was the presentation from Ruth Kiage and Margaret Evans who presented results from work undertaken at Goroka General Hospital in Papua New Guinea. Their abstract outlined the improvements resulting from the adoption of appropriate disposal of sharps and other medical waste, use of alcohol hand rub, training of staff as Gold Standard Hand Hygiene assessors and improved selection of chemicals used in cleaning.
As a result of these strategies” Infection Prevention & Control” and “”Hand Hygiene”” is now language used by all health care workers in the region along with a sense of ownership of these concepts.
One of the key messages to come out of the proceedings is that Infection surveillance is complex and requires the use of standardised criteria. Although Australia and some of its regional neighbours have a respected set of infection control guidelines, compliance monitoring, analysis, evaluations and consistency of key definitions remain problematic.
As a first step the College is working collaboratively towards the standardisation of data collection across the region so that informed decisions about treatment and prevention can be made. Such regional cooperation is essential to combatting the spread of ‘super-bugs’ – bacteria that are resistance to common antibiotics.
The threat of antimicrobial resistance is a global problem that affects us locally. By working with key stakeholders and regional neighbours the College is playing its part in coordinating efforts across the region to improve procedures, reduce preventable infections and hold in check the spread of antimicrobial resistance.
Planning is now well underway for the 2013 Conference which will be held in September/October in Darwin.
Summaries of Conference proceedings and edited highlights of some presentations are available on the
Prof. Anne Gardner - Councillor and Annie Wells Councillor co-chairing Proffered Papers Session 1 on Day One of the Conference

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