On October 24, 2011, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) posted new infection control guidelines for facilities providing outpatient oncology services titled, “Basic Infection Control and Prevention Plan for Outpatient Oncology Settings” (“Infection Prevention Plan”). The CDC decided that such policies and procedures are needed given the shift of oncology services to outpatient settings such as physician offices, hospital-based clinics, and nonhospital-based outpatient cancer centers.  In addition, oncology patients are particularly susceptible to infection.  The CDC is concerned about recent outbreaks that have occurred in such outpatient settings and the fact that in some instances, the facilities did not have infection control policies and procedures in place.  In contrast with acute care hospitals, there is wide variability in the infection control plans of outpatient oncology centers.

Outpatient oncology facilities that already have such plans in place are expected to incorporate the elements contained in the Infection Prevention Plan into their preexisting plans.  Those facilities that do not already have a plan in place are expected to use the Infection Prevention Plan as a starting point to develop plans tailored to their own facilities.  Although the CDC encourages facilities to tailor the Infection Prevention Plan to their individual facilities, the document is drafted to enable such facilities to simply insert their facility names as well as specific information applicable their facilities into Appendices A and B.

The Infection Prevention Plan contains three basic elements:  fundamental principles of infection prevention, education and training and surveillance and reporting.  Within the fundamental principles of infection prevention, it contains policies and procedures for standard precautions, transmission-based precautions and central venous catheters.  Outpatient oncology facilities are encouraged to go to the CDC’s website, which is available by clicking here, for more information.   A copy of the Infection Prevention Plan is available by clicking here.