Look for even more focus on water management to prevent Legionella infection
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December 4, 2017
Improve your plans to manage the spread of pathogenic biological substances such as Legionella before the federal government cracks down even more on risks within your water systems. Consider including your off-campus sites in your risk assessment since that is becoming a greater concern among infection control specialists.
Legionella and other infectious organisms spread through water systems were key parts of a session at The Joint Commission’s (TJC) Executive Briefings in September that focused on infection control within the environment of care.
That came on the heels of a request from the CDC in August for more information on best practices for water management programs (WMP). In seeking public comment, one of the questions the CDC asked was if there were other standards or guidance for the prevention and transmission of Legionella “that you would find useful but do not exist or are not currently available to you? If so, what information should those standards or guidance contain?”
To regulate more or not?
The American Society for Healthcare Engineering (ASHE) answered with a firm no on more regulations. In public comments signed by Jonathan Flannery, MHSA, CHFM, FASHE, FACHE, the senior associate director of advocacy for ASHE, the group argued that Medicare’s Conditions of Participation on Infection Control, §482.42, is sufficient regulation to require the control of Legionella.
The group noted that CMS also put out further guidance for hospitals and surveyors on the control of the bacteria that can cause sometimes fatal pneumonia or other respiratory problems in June with the survey-and-certification letter, S&C 17-30 Hospitals/CAHs/NHs, “Requirement to Reduce Legionella Risk in Healthcare Facility Water Systems to Prevent Cases and Outbreaks of Legionnaires’ Disease.”
However, ASHE acknowledged that more needs to be done in light of the continuing problems with Legionella infections, despite years of effort to educate health organizations.