Highlights from HICPAC

Good food and good conversations! Family vacation? Nope, HICPAC meeting!

The Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Council just wrapped up its summer in person meeting in Atlanta and, as always, a lot to think about. Here are a few quick thoughts on my return. Dan may chime in with his own thoughts too.


1.     It is always a pleasure to spend a few days with other people who are as committed to and deeply interested in infection prevention and patient safety as the HICPAC members, liaisons from partner organizations, and CDC personnel.  DHQP director Dr Cardo was at the table with us for most of the meeting, actively engaged in the discussions.  Additionally, the Consumer’s Union Safe Patient Project had just had a meeting with CDC the day before and patient advocates stayed on to attend HICPAC and provide their own expertise to the meeting.  (One of the speakers, founder of the Lilly Foundation, noted that often a distinction is made between having ‘subject matter experts’ and ‘patient/family voices’ on committees and councils.  He pointed out that those patient/family advocates also have expertise to share.)

It is sometimes a challenge to have discussions in a public forum, with microphones, and notifying the chair of your wish to comment, waiting your turn to speak (always a challenge for me), and the formal table layout, but this meeting featured engaged and deep discussions with broad participation.  Maybe had to do with the important topics raised for discussion…

2.     Some key discussion topics at HICPAC:

a.     NHSN: How to make NHSN better. The NHSN steering group has been repurposed into a HICPAC working group, and the group is taking the opportunity to think broadly about strengths and weaknesses and priorities for improvement. (Leave your comments below – don’t we all have opinions about this?)

b.   Guidelines: How to make HICPAC guidelines more timely and more helpful, while maintaining high quality, with a specific focus on how recommendations are categorized. 

c.    Modeling: A new mathematical modeling group in the Epi Research and Innovations Branch at DHQP gave an overview of some ongoing and planned modeling work and discussed the role of modeling in addressing “knowledge gaps not amenable to traditional epidemiologic approaches”.  This section featured one of my favorite quotes of the meeting:

“Describing a complex and poorly understood reality with a complex and poorly understood model is not progress” (I missed the attribution though, so apologies for not giving appropriate credit).

3.     Lastly, a quick shout-out to Leon’s and to the Brick Store Pubin Decatur for remarkably good food!  Try them if you are in the area. 

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