JCAHO Update for Infection Control: JCAHO adds standard on infectious patients 

Becomes effective Jan 1, 2005

The Joint Commission is adding a new infection control standard for health care facilities that requires them to prepare for an influx of infectious patients. As part of emergency management activities, institutions must prepare for such an influx or the risk of an influx effective Jan. 1, 2005.

In response to an e-mail inquiry regarding compliance with the standard, a Joint Commission official clarified that "the organization may choose to conduct a drill, but they are not required to do so." The final standard reads as follows:

Standard IC.6.10: As part of emergency management activities, the organization prepares to respond to an influx, or the risk of an influx, of infectious patients.

Rationale: The health care organization is an important resource for the continued functioning of a community. An organization’s ability to deliver care, treatment, or services is threatened when it is ill-prepared to respond to an epidemic or infections likely to require expanded or extended care capabilities over a prolonged period. Therefore, it is important for an organization to plan how to prevent the introduction of the infection into the organization, how to quickly recognize that this type of infection has been introduced, and/or how to contain the spread of the infection if it is introduced. This planned response may include a broad range of options including the temporary halting of services and/or admissions, delaying transfer or discharge, limiting visitors within an organization, or fully activating the organization’s emergency management plan. The actual response depends upon issues such as the extent to which the community is affected by the spread of the infection, the types of services offered, and the organization’s capabilities. The concepts included in these standards are supported by standards found elsewhere in the manual including standard EC.4.10.

Elements of Performance for IC.6.10

B 1. The organization plans its response to an influx or risk of an influx of infectious patients.

B 2. The organization has a plan for managing an ongoing influx of potentially infectious patients over an extended period.

B 3. The organization does the following:

  • Determines how it will keep abreast of current information about the emergence of epidemics or new infections, which may result in the organization activating its response.
  • Determines how it will disseminate critical information to staff and other key practitioners.
  • Identifies resources in the community (through local, state, and/or federal public health systems) for obtaining additional information.