ED Accreditation Update

Review of infection control standards under way

Joint Commission seeks to curb nosocomial infections

The Joint Commission is analyzing input received during an online field review of proposed changes to its infection control standards as part of a push to curb the occurrence of deadly nosocomial infections.

Feedback on the changes proposed for hospitals and other accredited organizations was due to the Joint Commission by Aug. 1, 2003, and full implementation of the modified standards is targeted for January 2005.

Nosocomial infections, acquired by patients hospitalized for other causes, strike more than 2 million patients annually, and 88,000 of those patients die each year as a result, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Emergency departments in Canada and several Asian countries were the source sites of nosocomial cases of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in hospital employees, visitors, and patients.

"At the close of the field review, we will review and analyze comments, then modify standards accordingly, and then the standards will undergo a series of approvals, which will extend well beyond 30 days after the field review closes," said Joint Commission spokeswoman Charlene Hill.

Because infection control has evolved significantly in recent years, the Joint Commission launched a complete review of its infection control standards.

A panel of experts identified six areas upon which to focus in the process of updating the standards. Those areas are: staffing and personnel issues; adherence to national guidelines; employee health; data collection and analysis; environment of care; and infection control program evaluation.

While the draft revisions incorporate infection prevention and control issues important to each accreditation program, Joint Commission president Dennis O’Leary said much of the 2003 standards would largely be unchanged.

"In many instances, the standards would retain their current focus, but become more prescriptive in nature," he said.


For more information on the Joint Commission’s proposed revisions to its infection control standards, visit:

Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations web site for information on the proposed revisions (go to http://www.jcaho.org; click on "accredited organizations," "hospitals," "standards," and "infection control").

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