Can you show me your EID? Do you know why I pulled you over?

By Steve MacArthur, Hospital Safety Consultant

Surging Deltas! Spiking Omicrons! Holy Infection Control, Batman!

Eventually, there may be time to start planning for whatever disease process(es) the future may hold, but—at least for the moment—there is barely enough time to catch one’s breath before the next pandemic wave makes an appearance.

In lieu of having enough time to consider a long-range planning process for the management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (EIDs – BTW, you should probably refer to them as just that in your HVA and response plans; someone reached out to ask the questions and it would appear that EID is preferred over pandemic/epidemic as the appropriate terminology - ), since the primary focus of most folks’ response activities is in dealing with just that, it’s probably worth trying to leverage the participation of your infection control and prevention folks, as well as organizational leaders to at least establish a response framework that can be deployed.

There’s a lot going on and (as we’ve noted before) if everything is a priority then nothing is a priority, it’s going to be important to come up with a strategy for ensuring the most critical elements are dealt with effectively.

To that point, there was a recent article in Infection Control Today ( advocating for IP folks to participate in the HVA  process. I can’t say that I’ve run into too many (if any, to be honest) instances in which the infection prevention and control folks have not participated to some degree in assessing vulnerabilities and risks relating to emergency response (and if they haven’t been at the table, I suspect that there may be some clamoring from that group to be so included). At any rate, I chalk this up as yet another example of the inextricable nature of the management of the physical environment and the environment’s impact on the prevention and control of infection.

When you think  about it (and perhaps even if you don’t), the environment in all its permutations, complexities, etc., is the foundation upon which all care is delivered—the less well-managed the environment, the more difficulties in providing care. As a subset of that, the question then becomes: Who’s going to be doing all this stuff in the future?

As the safety “elders” (of which I count myself as one) continue their search for a next chapter, the consideration of professional succession is going to increase in prevalence. If we’ve learned nothing else the past couple of years, it’s that a clear vision of the future is not always “in the cards” (and the recent past continues to be tense). If only we could change the deck…

About the Author: Steve MacArthur is a safety consultant with The Greeley Company in Danvers, Mass. He brings more than 30 years of healthcare management and consulting experience to his work with hospitals, physician offices, and ambulatory care facilities across the country. He is also a contributing editor for Healthcare Safety Leader. Contact Steve at