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CDC Seeks to Improve Ambulatory Care Safety

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, July 14, 2011

Much attention has been paid to improving safety of inpatient care, but for outpatient care, conditions have not been as rigorously policed, according to guidelines issued Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Even safe injection practices cannot be taken for granted.

The evidence-based guidelines and checklist are designed to help educate clinicians about minimum expectations for safe care to prevent errors and protect patients, especially since procedures are even more frequently being performed in ambulatory settings rather than inside hospitals, the CDC said in a statement.

"Patients deserve the same basic levels of protection in a hospital or any other health care setting," said Michael Bell, deputy director of CDC's Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion.

Ambulatory care settings traditionally lack the infrastructure and resources to prevent and track infections, and data describing risks for healthcare associated infections are lacking, the CDC said.

Nevertheless, increasing numbers of reports describe transmission of gram-negative and gram-positive bacteria, mycobacteria, viruses and parasites in healthcare environments where patients do not spend the night.

"In many instances, outbreaks and other adverse events were associated with breakdowns in basic infection prevention procedures (e.g., reuse of syringes leading to transmission of bloodborne viruses)," the CDC said.

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