SOURCE: Ann.Brockhaus on July 19, 2011 –Mercer EHS Consulting, Washington DC

 A new CDC guide details minimum expectations for safe care in outpatient settings and recommends every practice identify an infection prevention leader.  This new, concise guide and checklist was designed specifically for health care providers in outpatient care settings such as endoscopy clinics, surgery centers, primary care offices, and pain management clinics.


The Guide to Infection Prevention for Outpatient Settings: Minimum Expectations for Safe Care is based on existing, evidence-based CDC guidelines that apply to a wide range of health care facilities. The easy-to-reference guide is accompanied by an Infection Prevention Checklist for Outpatient Settings and supporting materials including a new, no-cost, certified continuing medical education course titled Unsafe Injection Practices: Outbreaks, Incidents, and Root Causesand offered on for clinicians in all health care settings. The video course was developed in collaboration with the Safe Injection Practices Coalition, a partnership of health care-related organizations formed to promote safe injection practices in all U.S. health care settings.


Among other important recommendations, the guide states that all outpatient practices should ensure that at least one individual with specific training in infection control is on staff or regularly available. This individual should be involved in developing a written infection control policy and have regular communication with health care providers to address specific issues or concerns.


The guide and supporting materials can be used for internal assessment within a facility or practice.

 Outpatient settings, facilities where patients do not stay overnight, include non-hospital based clinics and physician offices, urgent care centers, outpatient surgical centers, public health clinics, imaging centers, oncology clinics, outpatient behavioral health and substance abuse clinics, physical therapy and rehabilitation centers, as well as hospital-based outpatient departments and clinics.

The CDC points out that between 1995 and 2007, the average person made three visits each year to physician offices. By 2007, the total number of physician office visits approached 1 billion. Vulnerable patient populations make up a significant portion of health care users, and it is critical that care be provided under conditions that minimize the risk of health care-associated infections (HAIs).

These new materials reinforce that health care personnel should always:

  • Follow procedures for the safe handling of potentially contaminated medical equipment
  • Ensure safe medical injection practices are followed 

 Outpatient facilities and practices should:

  • Develop and maintain infection prevention and occupational health programs
  • Ensure that at least one individual with training in infection control is employed by or regularly available to the facility. This person should be responsible for overseeing the facility's infection prevention program
  •  Develop written infection-prevention policies and procedures appropriate for the services provided by the facility and based upon evidence-based guidelines, regulations, or standards
  • Provide job- or task-specific infection prevention education and training to all health care personnel
  • Make sure sufficient and appropriate supplies necessary for adherence to standard precautions are available
  • Perform regular audits and competency evaluations of staff's adherence to infection prevention practices
  • Utilize CDC's infection prevention checklist for outpatient settings to assess infection control practices


To access the guide, checklist, and supporting materials including the CME course, CDC and external commentary about the guide, clinician and patient education materials, and additional information, please visit