Category Archives: ACIPC

Some take aways from #ACIPC17 Conference, Canberra

Congratulations to the organisers of ACIPC Conference 2017 Parliament_House_Canberra_Dusk_Panoramain Canberra. Well done to the Conference Committee and the Scientific Committee. A great program and venue adding to the always enjoyable catch up with colleagues local, national and international.

There were many highlights. Due to other commitments, I missed a few of the major plenaries. Nevertheless, I came away with some clear take home messages from those I did get to, here are just a few of them…

  1. An emerging theme from the presentations was that of public reporting and financial penalties (PR&FP) associated with healthcare associated infections (HAIs). The likelihood that Australia needs to accept that these are inevitable for a range of HAIs is clear. In case you missed it, Benjamin Magid presented an excellent talk touching on the Australian Commission for Safety and Quality in Health Care use of what are called Hospital Acquired Complications, that use administrative coding data to detect healthcare associated infections, and which I have blogged about previously.
    One of the many advantages of living and working in Australia and hosting keynotes from the US is that they often provide a window to the future. At various stages, Prof Pat Stone, A/Prof Dev Anderson and Dr Susan Huang all related stories about their experience of PR&FP. From their experience it would seem, at some point in time, the implementation of PR&FPs does eventually turn into a positive for infection prevention (and hence our patients). From what we hear, PR&FPs seem to result in a recognition of infection prevention that subsequently provide opportunities to increase resources. Thats not to say there was no pain during the “journey”, and we should be prepared for that. Although Dev Anderson did argue against the notion of PR&FPs in the final debate, he was quick to tweet afterwards that in fact he does support it! Finally on this point, we should continue to explore better use of existing data if validated, strive to minimise the burden of data collection, and consider whether current HAI definitions are suitable for the PR&FP environment.
  2. The quality of the free papers gets better every year. The addition of the quick poster presentations and the new format of the 3 minute research presentations was a celebration of the excellent research being undertaken in our field. Updates on current studies (e.g. the large and complex REACH project) further added to our awareness of exciting work being undertaken by our colleagues. The next few years will see many of these projects yield new knowledge and fill sessions of conferences to come!
  3. The consumer voice is powerful. The presentation delivered by Mathew Ames left many in the auditorium not only in tears, but also resolute about the work we undertake.
  4. Finally for now, I believe the pop up sessions during lunch were a big winner. Informal yet intimate, a great way to get close to those people who are always hard to find at conferences. A great initiative hopefully here to stay..

But thats just some of my impressions from the sessions I saw. You might have seen something completely different. If so, comment below and let us know…

Looking forward to Brisbane in 2018.

TIP: Next year, if you have trouble remembering the correct Twitter hashtag, think  character count the character count by dropping the “20” from “2018”



Disclosure – ACIPC Board member (President Elect) and member of the ACIPC Conference Scientific Committee 2017

#A Trawl for Trends

In the lead up to the ACIPC conference in Canberra next week, I thought it might be timely to write something about the use of Twitter at infection control conferences. Thanks to Gabby Milgate for assisting with this blog.

Some of you might know that last year, a group of us reviewed tweets from four infection control/ID conferences – UK Infection Prevention Society, ID Week2016, The Federation of Infectious Society/Hospital Infection Society and the Australasian College for Infection Prevention and Control. Read the article here . 

Twitter as a medium for infection control content has grown from 181 Tweets at IPS2011 to 11,457 tweets at IPS2016. This rapid growth seems to suggest the twitter epidemic is contagious! The analysis of tweets from these four conferences identified trends in conference-related twitter activity.

Here are some evidence-based trends to help your infection prevention tweeimagests fly!

  1. Tweets with web-links are more likely to be retweeted, all things considered
  2. Picture are out – these are less likely to be re-tweeted, all things considered
  3. Tweeting on topics such as ‘Cleaning’, “Media@, ‘Clostridium Difficile’, ‘Antiseptic’, ‘Infection prevention and control’ and ‘Hand hygiene’ are more often retweeted.

I’ll be talking more about this at the ACIPC conference next week – the abstract is here

Not only has Twitter been used to broaden conference exposure and encourage attendees to further engage with content but the Royal Society of Chemistry hosted an entire conference on Twitter. The conference had an audience of 380,000 online users, without a ‘face-to-face’ component.  The conference was both cost-effective and far-reaching.  Additionally, its virtual delivery eliminated risks of airborne or droplet transmission of infections!

Twitter may serve as a useful tool for infection control professionals and enthusiasts to broaden their networks, providing a platform for infection related discourse and a mode of communication for health promotion and education to the general public of social media users.

Perhaps a future trending topic: ‘Twitterer’s twiddling their thumbs on their devices practice excellent hand hygiene’.

TwitterFor those attending the Australasian College for Infection Prevention and Control or want to follow what is happening from a distance, follow #ACIPC17 – and of course the authors of this blog!


Network Analysis: A line (edge) between usernames, indicates a relationship – a tweet sent by one person that included the username the other.  (IPS = Infection Prevention Society)

Professional or Practitioner: What’s in a name?

Dr Deborough Macbeth from Gold Coast Univerity Hospital and a leader in professional ICP practice in Australia was asked to write a blog for our site. Deb has written a thought provoking blog that we hope generates some discussion.  Thank you Deb



In 2008 the Association of Professionals in Infection Control (APIC) announwhat-is-in-a-name-2ced a change in the title of its members from ‘Infection Control Professionals’ to ‘Infection Preventionists’. The justification for this change reported in Infection Control Today by Kath Wayre, APIC’s CEO at the time, was that the new title “clearly and effectively communicates who our members are and what they do”.[1] In Australia, where the title ‘Infection Control Practitioner’ had been common for many years, news of this change filtered through prompting discussion and debate about our own title.

A range of issues informed this discussion and debate at that time in the Australian context. For me, two were particularly relevant. First, the establishment of a new nursing role titled Nurse Practitioner. The Nurse Practitioner role carried expanded practice rights including prescribing with specific additional educational requirements. Concerns were raised amongst the membership of the then College, known as the Australian Infection Control Association, around the ongoing use of ‘practitioner’ in our title and the possibility of other health professionals and members of the general public confusing our role with that of the Nurse Practitioner. These are used interchangeably in the literature, by members of the College and other health professions, without formal impediment or official restriction.

The second issue related to the increasing need to recognise non-nursing members of our profession. Once the Nurse Practitioner role was established in Australia, use of the term practitioner in our title tended to link the role exclusively to nursing. Ultimately the decision was made to adopt the title Infection Control Professional but what does this title mean?

Over the years I have reflected on these issues and question, leading me down a number of paths. The first is my recollection of when I was offered a chance to work in infection control for the first time, in 1993. I jumped at the opportunity for a number of reasons. I had just completed a secondment in sexual health where my main role had been working with patients who had Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). That specific role involved a significant focus on education of both health professionals as well as the general public. As a consequence I had developed educational skills and had a firm grasp of infection control concepts including ‘Universal Precautions’ (now called Standard Precautions) and Transmission-based Precautions. I had also provided counselling in relation to testing for blood-borne viruses and treatment in terms of hepatitis B vaccination. While these experiences augmented my previous nursing knowledge and experience, it was my belief that I should have no difficulty filling the infection control role because after all, infection control is a key component of all roles in healthcare.

Of course, it took no time at all in my new role to discover the vast difference between a basic understanding of infection control principles and the professional practice of infection control. It can be compared to the difference between the amateur golfer who plays once a week and Tiger Woods or some other professional golfer.

Tiger Woods no longer simply plays golf. He tests and endorses golf clubs and assorted equipment, he designs golf courses that others pay to play. He could write the handbook on golf and people would be willing to pay large sums of money to have him teach them how to play. This is the divide we cross when we call ourselves Infection Control Professionals. Did you think of that when you took on your first role in infection control? I certainly did not.

Stepping away from the sporting analogy, consideration of what constitutes a professional creates in my mind thoughts of a body of knowledge that is evidence-based. The professional is aware not only of the principles, but also the evidence that underpins those principles and the professional practice it informs.

The professional can respond to challenges and work in unfamiliar contexts simply through the application of those same principles. Furthermore, the professional identifies the unknown and seeks to make it known through scientific inquiry and research. In this regard the professional generates new knowledge, adding to the evidence base and paving the way for those who come afterwards.

The professional is someone whom others consult looking for answers to complex problems. In this sense our work may be compared to architects or engineers. Ours is a deep understanding of all the elements at work in a specific scenario. We can see the competing tensions and strike the correct balance: safe and practical; simple and elegant.

The professional is constantly learning and refining his/her knowledge and skills. He/she undertakes formal education and gains extensive experience, recognising his/her limitations but also continues to push the boundaries of those limitations.

The professional seeks out and consults with other professionals. They develop networks for collaboration and support. These networks become formalised over time into professional bodies and through consensus, standards of practice are developed for the protection of the professional and those they serve. As the profession matures it becomes self-regulating, clearly defining who its members are, their scope of practice, and what it takes to be a professional in that context.

All these considerations underpinned my decision to adopt the title Infection Control Professional (ICP). These considerations direct my daily practice and my commitment to and involvement in the Australasian College of Infection Prevention and Control (ACIPC) as the professional body that represents me. These considerations sustain and nourish my desire to light the path for those who follow, clearly illuminating the way forward. These considerations give form and function to the new ACIPC credentiallinacipc-credentiallingg framework that provides a mechanism for acknowledgment not only of the expert ICP but those in various stages of their professional journey.

When I consider what it means to be an ICP, I continue to challenge myself to move beyond the petty trials and tribulations associated with my work each day and focus instead on the sleek and shining edifice of professionalism we are building. Those who went before us laid the foundations and we have built upon them. Although arguably we are still stretching our wings and finding the limits of our strength, others will come after us and push the boundaries further still.

When I refer to myself as an Infection Control Professional I do so based on all these considerations. It isn’t just a title I have adopted. For me it has deep meaning and carries great responsibility. It enables me to challenge myself about who I am, what I stand for, and who I’m claiming to be when I call myself a ‘professional’. What does it mean for you?

Deb Macbeth



[1] Infection Control Today July 11, 2008.