CHANGES TO YOUR INFECTION CONTROL PROGRAM

New Virginia assisted living regulations are scheduled to go into effect February 1, 2018.  Nixon Law Group is posting a series of summaries on some of the key changes under the new regulations.  One of the most significant areas of change under the new Standards for Licensed Assisted Living Facilities is in the area of Infection Control, which is discussed in this post.

Please note that these summaries are intended simply to break down what the regulations say.  They should not be confused with advice on how to actually comply with the new requirements.  Compliance with the new regulations will likely require—among other things—new and revised policies and procedures that are specific to your community.  Remember: When it comes to compliance, there is no one-size-fits-all solution.

Infection Control Program: 22 VAC 40-73-100

Some of the more profound changes under the new regulations are to the requirements for an infection control program, which must be consistent with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) bloodborne pathogens regulations.  The regulations require that a licensed healthcare professional “with training in infection prevention” must participate in the development of infection prevention policies and procedures, ensure compliance with applicable guidelines and regulations, and participate in annually reviewing these policies and procedures.

There is also a requirement that a staff person “who has been trained in basic infection prevention” participate in the annual review, serve as a point of contact for the infection control program, and have responsibility for monitoring implementation of the program on an ongoing basis.  New staff training requirements (22 VAC 40-73-210) include that at least two of the required direct staff training hours be in infection control and prevention.  It is unclear whether this training would satisfy the “basic infection prevention” training required under this section or if something above the minimum training hours will be expected.

The infection control program must contain procedures by which staff and volunteers implement infection prevention measures, including hand hygiene, standard precautions, and the use of personal protective equipment.  The program must further include prevention measures related to various job duties such as:

  • Determining whether new or returning residents have an acute infectious disease;
  • Use of safe injection practices;
  • Blood glucose monitoring practices consistent with CDC guidelines;
  • Handling of linens, supplies, and equipment in a manner that prevents the spread of infection;
  • Sanitizing of rooms and equipment;
  • Proper handling of medical waste; and
  • Maintaining an effective pest control program.

The infection control regulations also include requirements for a “staff health program.”  The staff health program must include:

  • Provision of information regarding recommended vaccinations (per CDC guidelines) to staff and volunteers who have “any potential exposure” to residents or infectious materials;
  • Identification of employees with communicable diseases to ensure they are prevented from work activities that could result in transmission;
  • An exposure control plan for bloodborne pathogens;
  • Documentation of screenings and immunizations, offered to, received by, and/or declined by employees, including access to the hepatitis B vaccine; and
  • Compliance with OSHA requirements for reporting workplace injuries and exposure to infection.

These new infection control requirements will likely require new and revised written policies and procedures, as well as additional staff training and recordkeeping.  Again, understanding what the regulations say is only the first step towards compliance. 

If your assisted living community has questions or requires assistance preparing for and implementing the new regulations, please Contact an NLG Attorney.  Also, make sure to sign up for NLG e-mail updates for the latest summaries and other healthcare happenings.