CHA News Article

Guidance Focuses on Preparing for, Responding to Disease Outbreaks

The Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have published guidance for health care epidemiologists on disease outbreaks. Designed for acute care hospitals, but adaptable for other health care settings such as long-term care facilities and free-standing emergency departments, the guidance outlines key roles for epidemiologists ranging from advising incident response leaders on specific pathogens to fine-tuning communication with the public.

The guidance calls on health care epidemiologists to lend their medical and technical expertise to prevent and respond to outbreaks by:

  • Offering scientific guidance to other response staff
  • Helping to assess risks posed by pathogens or other factors in a crisis
  • Ensuring that information given to other health care personnel and the public is accurate
  • Contributing to the institution’s policies on surveillance of infectious disease threats as well as policies on outbreak measures such as patient isolation and treating vulnerable patient populations
  • Influencing staff training on infection prevention and control