The Joint Commission Update for Infection Control

JC Q&A: What if CAUTI a low risk?

The Joint Commission recently posted the following answer to a frequent asked question on catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTIs).

Q: My facility performs a risk assessment every year as required by IC.01.03.01. We consider a wide range of infection risks, and we rank them per IC.01.03.01 EP 5. Our risk assessment shows CAUTI is a very low patient risk; there are many other higher priorities. Must I perform surveillance for CAUTI because of the new NPSG.07.06.01 even though my risk assessment does not identify it as a priority?

A: NPSG.07.06.01 is a new goal on catheter-associated urinary tract infection (CAUTI) that was published in the July 2011 edition of Perspectives.

Reasons for this goal are captured in the following quote from the Perspectives article: "The Joint Commission's Patient Safety Advisory Group, a group of external national experts on patient safety issues, recommended that NPSG.07.06.01 for CAUTIs be considered for adoption. CAUTI is the most frequent type of health care–acquired infection (HAI), and represents as much as 80% of HAIs in hospitals. The frequency of CAUTIs creates a patient safety and quality concern."

The Joint Commission recognizes that a variety of surveillance approaches are appropriate for various types of infections. For example, NPSG.07.04.01 on catheter-associated bloodstream infection requires that all catheters be monitored; EP 4 states surveillance must be "hospital-wide, not targeted".

However, NPSG.07.03.01 on multi-drug resistant organisms allows for the risk assessment to drive surveillance, hence EP 4 says surveillance may be "targeted rather than hospital-wide". In a similar fashion, NPSG.07.05.01 on surgical site infection allows organizations to determine which surgeries to monitor, and EP 5 states, "Surveillance may be targeted to certain procedures based on the hospital's risk assessment."

NPSG.07.06.01 on CAUTI does not specify either hospital-wide or targeted surveillance. In fact, it does not specifically require that surveillance for CAUTI be performed at every accredited hospital. Rather, it allows for each organization to decide, based on its risk assessment (IC.01.03.01) whether CAUTI is a priority warranting surveillance. Having said this, The Joint Commission urges organizations to review the scientific literature and consensus-based guidelines when considering CAUTI surveillance.