Author(s): Sehulster L, Chinn RY CDC HICPAC
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Abstract The health-care facility environment is rarely implicated in disease transmission, except among patients who are immunocompromised. Nonetheless, inadvertent exposures to environmental pathogens (e.g., Aspergillus spp. and Legionella spp.) or airborne pathogens (e.g., Mycobacterium tuberculosis and varicella-zoster virus) can result in adverse patient outcomes and cause illness among health-care workers. Environmental infection-control strategies and engineering controls can effectively prevent these infections. The incidence of health-care--associated infections and pseudo-outbreaks can be minimized by 1) appropriate use of cleaners and disinfectants; 2) appropriate maintenance of medical equipment (e.g., automated endoscope reprocessors or hydrotherapy equipment); 3) adherence to water-quality standards for hemodialysis, and to ventilation standards for specialized care environments (e.g., airborne infection isolation rooms, protective environments, or operating rooms); and 4) prompt management of water intrusion into the facility. Routine environmental sampling is not usually advised, except for water quality determinations in hemodialysis settings and other situations where sampling is directed by epidemiologic principles, and results can be applied directly to infection-control decisions. This report reviews previous guidelines and strategies for preventing environment-associated infections in health-care facilities and offers recommendations. These include 1) evidence-based recommendations supported by studies; 2) requirements of federal agencies (e.g., Food and Drug Administration, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and U.S. Department of Justice); 3) guidelines and standards from building and equipment professional organizations (e.g., American Institute of Architects, Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation, and American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air-Conditioning Engineers); 4) recommendations derived from scientific theory or rationale; and 5) experienced opinions based upon infection-control and engineering practices. The report also suggests a series of performance measurements as a means to evaluate infection-control efforts.
This article was published in MMWR Recomm Rep
and referenced in Clinical Microbiology: Open Access