Public Release: 

New document guides hospitals in responding to infectious disease outbreaks

Healthcare epidemiologists play key role in emergency preparedness and response

Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America

NEW YORK (Nov. 30, 2017) -- A new expert guidance document for hospitals to use in preparing for and containing outbreaks was published today by the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America, with the support of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The guide was published in Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology.

"This guidance details the role of the healthcare epidemiologist as an expert and leader supporting hospitals in preparing for, stopping, and recovering from infectious diseases crises," said David Banach, MD, co-chair of the writing panel and Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Connecticut and Hospital Epidemiologist at UConn Health. "Armed with the resources to develop and support key activities, healthcare epidemiologists can utilize their skills and expertise in investigation and response to infectious disease outbreaks within a hospital's incident command system."

SHEA and CDC collaborated in 2016 to form the Outbreak Response Training Program to guide healthcare epidemiologists in how to maximize their facilities' preparedness and response efforts to combat outbreaks such as Ebola, Zika, pandemic influenza, and other infectious diseases. The new document, Outbreak Response and Incident Management: SHEA Guidance and Resources for Healthcare Epidemiologists in United States Acute-Care Hospitals, leads epidemiologists through how to apply, use, and interact with emergency response structures, groups, and frameworks from the institutional to the federal levels, and provides an overview of essential resources. The principles in the guidance are intended for acute care hospitals, but may apply to other types of healthcare facilities, such as free-standing emergency departments and long-term care facilities.

According to the guidance document, during a crisis the epidemiologist provides medical and technical expertise and leads infection prevention and control efforts, coordinates with institutional stakeholders, and provides input into internal and external communications.

"We will always be faced with new and re-emerging pathogens," said Lynn Johnston, MD, co-chair of the writing panel and professor of medicine and infectious diseases at Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada. "This guidance is part of an ongoing effort to develop tools and strategies to prevent and manage contagious diseases to ensure patient and public safety."

The document is part of a partnership between SHEA and CDC to prepare for emerging and re-emerging infections by providing training, educational resources, and expert guidance for dealing with outbreaks in healthcare facilities. The program is designed to train U.S. healthcare epidemiologists, who oversee infection control programs, to have the skills, abilities, and tools available to implement infection control practices and provide a leadership voice in responding to infectious threats.

To operationalize the guidance, SHEA will conduct an outbreak response workshop in January, develop and post toolkits based on the recommendations, and provide online training modules and webinars.

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David Banach, Lynn Johnston, Duha Al-Zubeidi, Allison Bartlett, Susan Casey Bleasdale, Valerie M. Deloney, Kyle B. Enfield, Judith A. Guzman-Cottrill, Cristopher Lowe, Luis Ostrosky-Zeichner, Kyle Popovich, Payal Patel, Karen Ravin, Theresa Rowe, Erica Shenoy, Roger Stienecker, Pritish Tosh, Kavita K. Trivedi. "Outbreak Response and Incident Management: Guidance and Resources for Healthcare Epidemiologists in United States Acute Care Hospitals." Web (November 30, 2017).

About ICHE

Published through a partnership between the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America and Cambridge University Press, Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology provides original, peer reviewed scientific articles for anyone involved with an infection control or epidemiology program in a hospital or healthcare facility. ICHE is ranked 19th out of 83 Infectious Disease Journals in the latest Web of Knowledge Journal Citation Reports from Thomson Reuters.

The Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA) is a professional society representing more than 3,000 physicians and other healthcare professionals around the world who possess expertise and passion for healthcare epidemiology, infection prevention, and antimicrobial stewardship. The society's work improves public health by establishing infection-prevention measures and supporting antibiotic stewardship among healthcare providers, hospitals, and health systems. This is accomplished by leading research studies, translating research into clinical practice, developing evidence-based policies, optimizing antibiotic stewardship, and advancing the field of healthcare epidemiology. SHEA and its members strive to improve patient outcomes and create a safer, healthier future for all. Visit SHEA online at http://www.shea-online.org, http://www.facebook.com/SHEApreventingHAIs and @SHEA_Epi.

About Cambridge Journals

Cambridge University Press publishes over 350 peer-reviewed academic journals across a wide spread of subject areas, in print and online. Many of these journals are leading academic publications in their fields and together form one of the most valuable and comprehensive bodies of research available today.

For further information about Cambridge Journals, visit journals.cambridge.org

About Cambridge University Press

Cambridge University Press is part of the University of Cambridge. It furthers the University's mission by disseminating knowledge in the pursuit of education, learning and research at the highest international levels of excellence.

Its extensive peer-reviewed publishing lists comprise 45,000 titles covering academic research, professional development, over 350 research journals, school-level education, English language teaching and bible publishing.

Playing a leading role in today's international market place, Cambridge University Press has more than 50 offices around the globe, and it distributes its products to nearly every country in the world.

For further information about Cambridge University Press, visit cambridge.org.

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