Improving Patient Outcomes

The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center’s Department of Clinical Epidemiology oversees the Infection Prevention program at all Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center’s inpatient and outpatient facilities including over 1,300 inpatient beds, >61,000 patient admissions per year and 1.76 million annual outpatient visits.

The purpose of the Infection Prevention program is to provide a microbiologically safe environment to protect Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center patients, healthcare workers and visitors from healthcare associated infections.

The activities are primarily directed at:  
  • Education
  • Surveillance
  • Clinical research for prevention of all healthcare associated infections such as device related infections, surgical site infections and central line infections, Clostridium difficile and MDROs  
The program consists of the:
  • Medical director
  • Associate medical director
  • Infection prevention manager and five infection preventionist practitioners (IP)
  • Data manager
  • One part-time student for clerical support

Collaboration with Pharmacy

The Division of Infectious Diseases has maintained a longstanding collaborative program with the OSU Department of Pharmacy regarding monitoring of antimicrobial utilization and links to antimicrobial resistance.

Clinical pharmacist infectious disease specialists and pharmacy residents interact regularly with consult services and the Department of Clinical Epidemiology.

A Master degree program at The Ohio State University College of Public Health is open to fellows who want formal training in epidemiology and biostatistics.

Collaboration with Environmental Services

The clinical epidemiology staff works very closely with the environmental services staff to optimize room cleaning and surface decontamination. They have assisted in trials of new products and technologies to mitigate the risk of cross transmission of pathogens.


The infection preventionist practitioners, the medical director and the associate medical director participate in monthly multi-disciplinary meetings including:
  • Infection Control Committee
  • Patient Safety and Quality
  • Construction (to monitor, intervene to reduce risks within and around the facilities)
  • Department specific quality committees (cardiothoracic, orthopedics, neurosurgery)
  • Leadership Council, where presentations on recent initiatives are shared

Product Evaluation

The Department of Clinical Epidemiology is also represented on the Product Evaluation Committee to assist in choosing optimal cost-effective items, for example:

  • Safety-phlebotomy devices
  • Central venous catheter kit components, etc.
  • To protect patients, visitors and staff from acquiring healthcare associated infections

Role of the Clinical Epidemiology Staff

The IPs and medical director are available for:
  • Consultation on exposures to communicable diseases, BBFE
  • Isolation practices
  • Potential outbreak investigations
  • Appropriate personal protective equipment

The IPs and medical director provide orientation for all new employees on a bi-weekly basis and additional informal educational forums for current initiatives. They have established a Link Nurse Program with representatives from most patient care units, after a 16-hour training program and monthly topical meetings. The medical director provides orientation to all new house staff and new attendings each month, and first and third year medical students annually.

Member National Health Safety Network

The OSUWMC contributes infection surveillance data to the National Health Safety Network. Improving patient safety consists of an active surveillance program for:
  • High-risk
  • High-morbidity selected surgical procedures
  • Newer surgical procedures to assess unanticipated risks
  • Catheter related blood stream infections in the intensive care units
  • Ventilator associated pneumonias
  • Catheter associated urinary tract infections
Surveillance findings are incorporated into the development of performance improvement programs to improve patient outcomes. In addition, the IPs submit quarterly pathogen prevalence reports to the intensive care units and track and abrogate any potential negative trends based on intensive care unit surveillance data.

We have a close working relationship with the Ohio Department of Health, where laboratory specimens can be studied by pulse-field gel electrophoresis, if necessary.

We work with the Department of Pharmacy to encourage appropriate antibiotic choices for selected clinical diagnoses and to decrease the risk of developing C. difficile.