IC by the numbers: Goals and recommendations

Panel sets standard of care for programs

According to a consensus panel report, the essential elements of a modern hospital infection control boil down to these numbers: three goals, four functions, and 23 specific recommendations.

"The goals, recommendations, and expected outcomes that follow represent a single standard of care for all hospitals," stated the panel, which was formed by the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America and included representatives from a broad spectrum of the medical and public health community.1 The panel concluded that the following goals should be the driving force behind every recommendation and action of a hospital infection control program:

1. Protect the patient.

2. Protect the health care worker, visitors, and others in the health care environment.

3. Accomplish the previous two goals in a cost-effective manner whenever possible.

The panel determined the principal functions of infection control and health care epidemiology to be protecting the patient and health care worker and ensuring the optimal operation of the health care system by means of the following:

1. managing critical data and information, including surveillance of nosocomial infections;

2. setting and recommending policies and procedures;

3. intervening directly to interrupt the transmission of infectious diseases;

4. educating and training health care workers and providers.

The 23 recommendations are rated according to the following categories:

Category I: Strongly recommended for implementation based on evidence from at least one properly randomized, controlled trial; or evidence from at least one well-designed clinical trial without randomization; or evidence from cohort or case-control analytical studies (preferably from more than one center); or evidence from multiple time-series studies.

Category II: Recommended for implementation based on published clinical experience or descriptive studies, or reports of expert committees, or opinions of respected authorities.

Category III: Recommended when required by government rules or regulations.


1. Scheckler WE, Brimhall D, Buck AS, et al. Requirements for infrastructure and essential activities of infection control and epidemiology in hospitals: A consensus panel report. Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol 1998; 19:114-126.