CDC Releases New Outpatient Safety Checklist

Just as airline pilots are required to use safety checklists before taking off, so should medical facilities who are treating people on an outpatient basis, said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday.

The CDC issued a new set of safety checklist guidelines to reduce outpatient infections because it has found that multiple facilities aren’t adhering to standard infection prevention practices.

“Patients deserve the same levels of protection in a hospital or any other health care setting,” said Michael Bell, deputy director of the CDC’s division of health care quality promotion. “Repeated outbreaks resulting from unsafe practices, along with breaches of infection control noted in ambulatory surgical centers during inspections by the (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) indicate the need for better infection prevention.”

The CDC estimates that more than 2 million hospital-acquired infections occur in U.S. hospitals each year, and as many as 99,000 patients who get these infections die as a result. That has spurred hospitals to adopt safety checklists for their patients, through programs such as the Comprehensive Unit-based Safety Program, a joint venture led by several non-profit groups and hospitals to improve patient safety, and the World Health Organization’s surgical safety list.

Now the CDC has a recommended checklist for outpatients facilities such as non-hospital based clinics, physician offices, urgent care centers, outpatient surgical centers, public health clinics, imaging centers, oncology clinics, as well as hospital-based outpatient departments. The agency said that more than 75 percent of all operations are performed in these outpatient centers.

bvaida@kff.org

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