The CDC released a new toolkit to assist health departments and healthcare facilities with notifying patients after an infection control lapse or potential disease transmission during medical care. Unsafe injection practices and other lapses in basic infection control put patients at risk of infection. These incidents have occurred in a wide variety of healthcare settings (e.g., hospitals, outpatient clinics, assisted living facilities). When these practices or the resulting infections are discovered, a patient notification process typically ensues.
Since 2001, more than 150,000 patients have been potentially exposed to hepatitis B and C viruses and HIV due to unsafe medical practices in U.S. healthcare facilities. Last year, the CDC and state health departments notified nearly 14,000 patients during a multistate outbreak of fungal meningitis and other infections. Although the circumstances surrounding individual incidents may vary, the communication needs that follow are consistent and predictable. Additionally, incidents have the potential to be high profile and sensitive so it is critical to work quickly.
This toolkit, which is available on-line, contains resources and templates to facilitate a swift and effective notification process. The toolkit includes the key steps a healthcare facility or public health department should take to initiate a patient notification and provides resources to assist with creating notification documents, planning media and communication strategies, establishing communication resources to support patient notification, and releasing notification letters.
The CDC presented the toolkit during a workshop at the APIC Annual Conference in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, on June 9th, and will present it at a series of upcoming webinars and conferences for state and local health officials and communication professionals. This toolkit is intended to be used after a health department or healthcare facility decides to notify patients of their potential exposure to infectious organisms due to an unsafe practice or infection control breach. It offers resources and template materials to facilitate the notification process as well as some essential tips and strategies.
See the CDC Announcement
See the CDC Injection Safety Patient Notification Toolkit
See also Medical Law Perspectives, January 2012 Report: Hospital-Acquired Infections: Who Is Liable and Why?