The Society for Health Epidemiology of America has identified five themes, encompassing aspects of outbreak prevention and response.

MONDAY, September 16

Preventing Healthcare-Associated Infections

Significant progress has been made in preventing many healthcare-associated infections; but hospitals must remain vigilant in identifying and maintaining infection control processes to reduce common infections and stay ahead of emerging pathogens. 

Healthcare epidemiologists and infection prevention experts are critical to this goal because they provide a specific skill set and expert guidance required to preventing these dangerous outbreaks.

TUESDAY, September 17

Preparedness - Outbreak Response and Incident Management

In a disease outbreak, it is important to have a leader in place to coordinate the response by the healthcare team. With their exceptional command of data and unique analytical and investigative skills, healthcare epidemiologists are responsible for investigating the outbreak, containing further spread of the disease, and communicating with the community and health officials at a local, state, and national level.

WEDNESDAY, September 18

Partnerships: Public Health and Community Response

While the healthcare epidemiologist actively works as a leader in outbreak prevention and response, he or she must communicate and coordinate with other infection control professionals in the community, as well as state and national agencies to prevent, prepare for and manage disease outbreaks.

THURSDAY, September 19

Antibiotic Stewardship and Risks of Multidrug-Resistant Organisms

Multidrug-resistant organisms are a growing threat. Antibiotic stewardship and safe prescribing practices play an important role in the fight against multidrug-resistant organisms. They are central to preventing the emergence and limiting the spread of these dangerous pathogens. 

The infrastructure of these programs can vary from hospital to hospital, but the principles of safe antibiotic use are everyone’s responsibility. Clearly defining roles for leading these efforts helps ensure an efficient and strong collaborative defense against multidrug-resistant organisms.

FRIDAY, September 20

Sustainability: Research & Funding

Research is vital to staying ahead of deadly disease outbreaks around the world. A lack of reliable funding can limit the willingness of new healthcare epidemiologists and other researchers to enter the field, which can delay new discoveries for decades, hindering prevention, early warning, and preparedness at all levels.