The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations will require hospitals and other healthcare organizations to systematically head-off deadly healthcare-associated infections under new standards that go into effect in January 2005. The JCAHO said hospitals will be required to make an infection-control program a major component of safety and performance improvement programs and to perform ongoing assessments to identify risks for transmission and acquisition of infectious agents. The Oakbrook Terrace, Ill.-based accrediting agency cited federal statistics that 2 million people acquire an infection each year while being treated in a hospital for other reasons and 90,000 die as a result. That's as many as die from medical errors each year according to estimates from the Institute of Medicine, although the medical-error problem has received much more attention since a 1999 IOM report. Under the new standards, hospitals will have to use an epidemiological approach to conduct surveillance against infections, collect data and interpret the results. Organizations also will be required to include various departmental leaders in the design and implementation of infection controls. -- by John Morrissey
JCAHO to require stepped up infection control
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