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After long wait, CDC releases revisions to its isolation precautions

Briefings on Infection Control, June 27, 2007
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finally released a long-awaited set of guidelines on Monday that updates and expands the isolation precautions it recommends for hospitals and other healthcare settings.

The 219-page Guideline for Isolation Precautions: Preventing Transmission of Infectious Agents in Healthcare Settings 2007 is posted on the CDC's Web site.

This is the CDC's first major revision to the guidelines, which it first released for hospitals in 1996. As healthcare delivery has expanded to other settings, these new guidelines apply to ambulatory care, long-term care, home care and infusion services, as well as special environments such as pediatrics, ICUs, and burn units.

Further, the new guidelines:
  • Provide more focus on administrative support of infection control (IC) programs, in particular the importance of IC and nurse staffing levels
  • Expand standard precautions to include respiratory hygiene and cough etiquette, mask use when performing certain high-risk, prolonged procedures involving spinal canal punctures, and added emphasis on safe injection practices
  • Recommend that healthcare workers don indicated personal protective equipment upon entry into a patient's room for patients who are on contact and/or droplet precautions, a change that reflects the uncertainty of the interaction with a patient and environmental surfaces
  • Include an updated section on multi-drug resistant organisms, which the CDC previously released last year


The new guidelines also address the emergence of new pathogens (e.g., severe acute respiratory syndrome and norovirus), new therapies such as gene therapy, and increased concern about bioterrorism.

This article was written as a breaking news update by Owen MacDonald, editor of Briefings on Infection Control, and Joanne Finnegan. They may be reached at omacdonald@hcpro.com and jfinnegan@hcpro.com. Briefings on Infection Control is a monthly newsletter by HCPro Inc. For information on all of HCPro’s products, visit www.hcmarketplace.com.