JCAHO Seeks Input on Revised Infection Control Standards

OAKBROOK TERRACE, Ill. -- The Joint Commission on

Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) this week released for

field review proposed changes that would strengthen standards to help

prevent the occurrence of deadly nosocomial infections.

The draft infection control standards for ambulatory care, behavioral

healthcare, home care, hospital and long-term care organizations are

posted at www.jcaho.org. The deadline for feedback is Friday, August 1, 2003,

and full implementation of the modified standards is targeted for January


An expert group of physicians, nurses, risk managers and other healthcare

professionals helped JCAHO revise the standards. The 20-member group

identified six principal areas of emphasis:

- Staffing and personnel issues

- Adherence to national guidelines

- Employee health

- Data collection and analysis

- Care of the environment and equipment and supplies

- Evaluation of infection control programs

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that more

than 2 million patients annually acquire an infection while hospitalized

in U.S. hospitals for other health problems and that 88,000 die as a

direct or indirect result of these infections. In addition to the human

toll, the CDC reports that efforts to treat these infections add nearly $5

billion to healthcare costs every year.

The Joint Commission accredits nearly 17,000 healthcare organizations,

and nosocomial infections are a risk in all of the care settings

encompassed in this group. In January 2003, the Joint Commission issued a

Sentinel Event Alert to the organizations it accredits advising that the

unanticipated deaths of patients involving preventable hospital-acquired

infections are being seriously underreported across America. The Sentinel

Event Alert also urges compliance with guidelines from the CDC that advise

healthcare professionals to use alcohol-based handrubs -- in conjunction

with traditional soap and water and sterile gloves -- to help prevent these

acquired infections.

Source: JCAHO