JCAHO considers new epidemic preparedness standard

The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations has proposed a new infection control standard. As part of emergency management activities, organizations should prepare to respond to epidemics or infections likely to require expanded care capabilities over an extended period of time.

Rationale

The health care organization is an important resource for the continued functioning of a community. An organization’s ability to deliver services is threatened when it is ill-prepared to respond to an epidemic or infections likely to require expanded care capabilities over an extended period of time.

Therefore, it is important for an organization to plan how to prevent the introduction of the infection into the organization, how to quickly recognize this type of infection has been introduced, and/or how to contain the spread of the infection if it is introduced. This plan may include a broad range of options including the temporary halting of services, limiting visitors within an organization, and fully activating the organization’s emergency management plan. The actual plan 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 capabilities of the organization.

The concepts included in these standards can be found elsewhere in the manual. However, they are emphasized in this section because of risk to an organization, associated personnel, patients, and the entire community if an epidemic or an infection likely to require expanded care capabilities over an extended period of time is recognized slowly, not well-contained, and/or an inadequate response is mounted.

Elements of Performance for IC.6.10

1. The organization determines its role, if any, in the potential provision of care, treatment, or services to patients in the event of an epidemic or infections likely to require expanded care capabilities over an extended period of time.

2. If the organization plans to continue to accept patients, it has a plan for managing an ongoing influx of potentially infectious patients over an extended period of time.

3. As part of planning:

A. The organization determines how it will keep abreast of current information about the emergence of epidemics or new infections that may result in the organization activating its plan.

B. The organization sets parameters for when it will activate its plan.

C. Resources in the community through local, state, and/or federal public health systems for obtaining information are identified.

D. Mechanisms for interacting with these organizations are established.