JCAHO Update for Infection Control: Bar also being raised for long-term care facilities

Standards similar to hospitals must be adopted

While much attention has been paid to new hospital infection control standards for 2005, the Joint Commission also is adopting similar standards in long-term care facilities.

A pre-publication edition of the new standards for long-term care, which will be effective Jan. 1, 2005, call for the following key provisions:

Major safety initiative

Prevention of health care-associated infections (HAIs) represents one of the major safety initiatives that a long-term care organization can undertake.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC; 2000)1 estimates that each year approximately 2 million patients admitted to acute care hospitals in the United States acquire infections that were not related to the condition for which they were hospitalized.

Residents of long-term care facilities often are transferred to and from hospital settings, making infection prevention and control a priority.

Older adults may not present with the typical signs and symptoms of infection, making identification of these residents with infections more challenging.

The design and scope of the long-term care organization’s infection prevention and control program (IC program) are based on the risks that the organization faces for the transmission of infectious disease.

Seven steps to achieving the goal

Therefore, the organization assesses its risk and designs the IC program based on this assessment. Once the organization has designed its IC program, the program must be monitored to ensure that the infection prevention and control activities are implemented.

The goal of an effective IC program is to reduce the risk of acquisition and transmission of HAIs.

Long-term care organizations must do the following to achieve this goal:

  1. The organization incorporates its infection program as a major component of its safety and performance improvement programs.
  2. The organization performs an ongoing assessment to identify its risks for the acquisition and transmission of infectious agents.
  3. The organization uses an epidemiological approach that consists of surveillance, data collecting data, and trend identification.
  4. The organization effectively implements infection prevention and control processes.
  5. The organization educates and collaborates with leaders across the organization to effectively participate in the design and implementation of the IC program.
  6. The organization integrates its efforts with health care and community leaders to the extent practicable, recognizing that infection prevention and control is a communitywide effort.
  7. The organization plans for responding to infections that potentially may overwhelm its resources.