AHA involvement ran gamut of infection issues

Six decades of answers and advocacy

The American Hospital Association in Chicago has a tradition of leadership in infection control that includes key policy influence, publications, and consultation dating back to the 1940s. The following AHA achievements in the field were cited in a recent review article1:

• The AHA’s early interest in infection control is highlighted by publications on disinfection and sterilization in the 1940s, and the 1959 formation of its infection control committee.

• The AHA co-sponsored and published the proceedings of the first International Conference on Nosocomial Infections, held at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta in 1970. That same year, the AHA made the unprecedented recommendation that hospitals abandon the traditional, yet expensive and unnecessary, activity of obtaining environmental cultures in favor of epidemiologic surveillance. The action resulted in a revolutionary change in the way infection control and surveillance were conducted in hospitals.

• The AHA assumed a leadership role early in the AIDS epidemic by assisting hospitals in working through the many challenges that HIV presented. For many practitioners in health care facilities in 1992, AHA’s special briefing on the federal bloodborne pathogens standard provided answers to commonly asked questions and specific step-by-step strategies for implementation.

• More recently, in January 1994, the AHA was crucial in deciphering conflicting federal regulations and guidelines, and provided hospitals with recommendations for implementing tuberculosis control programs.

• The AHA and its infection control committee members also have provided background information and expert testimony to congressional committees and regulatory agencies on critical infection control issues, such as the feasibility and cost of compliance with standards, barriers to the adoption of safer needle devices, rational approaches to disposal of medical waste, management of the HIV-infected health care worker, and TB control.

Reference

1. Weinstein RA, Pugliese G. The American Hospital Association. Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol 1994; 15:269-273.