The Infection Control Manual in Long-term Care/ Where is it Written?

In case you’ve never developed a personal relationship with your Infection Control Manual, and if no one has ever mentioned it, you should know you really do have one.

You might want to locate your manual sooner, rather than later, because this great white book should contain written policies and procedures (P & P’s)  or, the rules to the game of Infection Control in your facility.  Surveyors will ask you to locate it, when it was last updated, if it is compliant and if you are following your own policies and procedures (P & P’s).

A good place to begin looking for the Infection Control Manual you have never been formally introduced to is probably down the hall, in an abandoned office, on the bottom most shelf. With some diligence you might spot it leaning against thirty two other misplaced, dusty manuals of one kind or another. You will soon see they all look alike; they are usually large, white, three ring binders that at first glance, seem to have been deliberately designed to be indistinguishable from every other kind of manual.

There are Long-term Care facilities who are right on top of things and know exactly where their Infection Control manual is at all times. They may have invested in multiple copies, and occasionally one may even be found at, or near the nurses’ station, easily accessible.

Conversely, there are also those facilities that have no idea where to find their manual, or who have multiple editions from extraneous sources, such as labs they contracted with years ago and have long since lost communication with.

When vendors change, the manuals are usually dismissed in favor of the latest provider’s version.. and so the collection grows until one day, the unfortunate novice Infection Preventionist arrives on the scene, searching for the most recent, updated and compliant manual, only to be faced with an ongoing scavenger hunt.

The Infection Control Manual is more than a resource; its purpose is to contain the Infection Control Policies and Procedures of your facility. They are meant to be based on federal, state and local guidelines, mandates and regulations. These policies and procedures must be reviewed, updated and approved by the Infection Control Committee at least annually and more often as indicated.

In the case of a missing or non-compliant manual, once found, it may be in urgent need of revision. There are companies who produce Infection Control Manuals for Long-term Care and if the facility is a part of a large corporation, there is more apt to be help in the form of corporate Infection Control Policies and Procedures.

The Infection Preventionist needs to locate their facility Infection Control Manual, no matter what state it is in, as soon as possible. Once located, set about updating, editing and revising, with the help of any Infection Control Consultants you may have available to you, your nursing, staff and the Infection Control Committee.

Picture reference: Old; manuals close up; (March 26, 2012)