Infection control is usually thought of as a JCAH-mandated program that is limited to hospitals. Infection control is more than this; it is a basic quality control strategy that all health care providers should be aware of. The basic JCAH requirements for an infection control program are a good starting point in the discussion of the quality control aspects of infection control.
Infection control review procedures are the best developed of all hospital-based review functions. The other review functions are of more recent origin and tend to derive from the hospital's duty to ensure the quality of the medical staff. Thus, while the duty to monitor medical staff. Thus, while the duty to monitor medical staff performance is fairly recent, the liability for improper infection control techniques is much older, covering such specific breaches as improperly sterilized surgical instruments, which is the classic example of hospital liability.
At the same time that infection control has grown as a hospital function, however, it has been ignored by many group practices. Group practices have tended to leave infection control monitoring to the individual physician. This is satisfactory when the practice is very small, but as more physicians become members there will be more shared services that may not be under the direct supervision of any one staff member. As a result, any practice with significant shared services should institute a formal infection control program.
There are many useful reference on the mechanics of conducting an infection control program. Our discussion here will focus on the legal aspects of infection control rather than on the actual structure of the program.
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