Frontline Staff Win Pizza Parties, Shout-Outs for Infection Control Success

By Anne Harding

July 13, 2020

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Some hospitals have been celebrating infection prevention successes with rewards and recognition for frontline staff ranging from pizza parties to congratulatory emails, according to a new study in the American Journal of Infection Control.

"Providing recognition and rewards to frontline staff for preventing healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) can be a powerful motivational tool to sustain infection prevention efforts," Alice A. Gaughan of The Ohio State University College of Medicine in Columbus, the study's first author, told Reuters Health in an email. "For example, acknowledging or congratulating nurses for preventing a HAI during team huddles and clinical rounds are simple and cost-free opportunities that physicians and managers can use to celebrate the hard work of frontline staff. These are especially important now given the extraordinary challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic."

Gaughan and her colleagues interviewed 318 unit managers or frontline nursing staff at 18 hospitals in 10 US states about their institution's management practices regarding infection control. The study was part of the larger three-year Searching for Management Approaches to Reduce HAI Transmission (SMART) study, funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and led by Dr. Ann McAlearney at Ohio State. SMART focused on catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTIs), central line-associated bloodstream infections (CLABSIs), and overall infection prevention efforts.

Site visits for the current study took place from September 2017 to November 2019, and the investigators spoke to staff from multiple units in each hospital. Three of the 18 hospitals performed worse than the national average in terms of CAUTI, five performed better, and the rest had average performance. Performance in controlling CLABSI was average for 10 hospitals and better than average for eight.

Not all hospitals provided rewards and recognition for HAI prevention, Gaughan noted. Some offered rewards, including parties, food and "swag," for example, new scrub jackets. Nurses said they appreciated the rewards and felt motivated by them. "Intangible recognition" of HAI prevention successes included mentions in emails and during huddles, and preferences in work scheduling.

"We are now in the process of disseminating our results as well as integrating our findings into an interactive Management Practices Toolkit for HAI reduction and prevention which will be available online. The Toolkit will include an implementation program tailored to leaders, managers, and frontline staff and will include checklists, presentations of best practices, facilitation guides, and case studies," Gaughan said.

"As frontline leaders, physicians can help promote patient safety by showing they value the efforts of nurses and other frontline staff who have the important job of preventing the spread of infections, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic," she added. "Doing something as small as sending a quick email to a colleague can show you appreciate their efforts."

"We also know from our larger study that clinical information essential for infection prevention is exchanged between physicians and nurses during daily rounding. This is potentially the opportune time for physicians to recognize nurses and other care team members for their actions which have resulted in successful infection prevention, as this recognition can be a powerful motivator for continued vigilance in infection prevention efforts," the researcher said.

"We are very interested in the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on health systems and healthcare professionals. We are currently extending our original study to consider how health systems have responded to the COVID-19 pandemic and our team will soon begin collecting data on the how the practice of 'rewards and recognition for success' may have been modified during the global pandemic," she concluded.

SOURCE: American Journal of Infection Control, online June 29, 2020.