Part II. Recommendations for Environmental Infection Control in Health-Care Facilities

Guidelines for Environmental Infection Control in Health-Care Facilities (2003)

A. Rationale for Recommendations

As in previous CDC guidelines, each recommendation is categorized on the basis of existing scientific data, theoretic rationale, applicability, and possible economic benefit. The recommendations are evidence-based wherever possible. However, certain recommendations are derived from empiric infection-control or engineering principles, theoretic rationale, or from experience gained from events that cannot be readily studied (e.g., floods).

The HICPAC system for categorizing recommendations has been modified to include a category for engineering standards and actions required by state or federal regulations. Guidelines and standards published by the American Institute of Architects (AIA), American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), and the Association for the Advancement in Medical Instrumentation (AAMI) form the basis of certain recommendations. These standards reflect a consensus of expert opinions and extensive consultation with agencies of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Compliance with these standards is usually voluntary. However, state and federal governments often adopt these standards as regulations. For example, the standards from AIA regarding construction and design of new or renovated health-care facilities, have been adopted by reference by >40 states. Certain recommendations have two category ratings (e.g., Categories IA and IC or Categories IB and IC), indicating the recommendation is evidence-based as well as a standard or regulation.

B. Rating Categories

Recommendations are rated according to the following categories:

  • Category IA. Strongly recommended for implementation and strongly supported by well-designed experimental, clinical, or epidemiologic studies.
  • Category IB. Strongly recommended for implementation and supported by certain experimental, clinical, or epidemiologic studies and a strong theoretical rationale.
  • Category IC. Required by state or federal regulation, or representing an established association standard. (Note: Abbreviations for governing agencies and regulatory citations are listed, where appropriate. Recommendations from regulations adopted at state levels are also noted. Recommendations from AIA guidelines cite the appropriate sections of the standard).
  • Category II. Suggested for implementation and supported by suggestive clinical or epidemiologic studies, or a theoretical rationale.
  • Unresolved Issue. No recommendation is offered. No consensus or insufficient evidence exists regarding efficacy.
C. Air
C.I. Air-Handling Systems in Health-Care Facilities
Edit [February 2017]
Update or clarification r7 Edit: An * indicates recommendations that were renumbered for clarity. The renumbering does not constitute change to the intent of the recommendations.
  1. Use AIA guidelines as minimum standards where state or local regulations are not in place for design and construction of ventilation systems in new or renovated health-care facilities. Ensure that existing structures continue to meet the specifications in effect at the time of construction.120 Category IC (AIA: 1.1.A, 5.4)
  2. Monitor ventilation systems in accordance with engineers’ and manufacturers’ recommendations to ensure preventive engineering, optimal performance for removal of particulates, and elimination of excess moisture.18, 35, 106, 120, 220, 222, 333, 336 Category IB, IC (AIA: 7.2, 7.31.D, 8.31.D, 9.31.D, 10.31.D, 11.31.D, EPA guidance)
    1. Ensure that heating, ventilation, air conditioning (HVAC) filters are properly installed and maintained to prevent air leakages and dust overloads.17, 18, 106, 222 Category IB
    2. Monitor areas with special ventilation requirements (e.g., AII or PE) for ACH, filtration, and pressure differentials.21, 120, 249, 250, 273–275, 277, 333–344 Category IB, IC (AIA: 7.2.C7, 7.2.D6)
      • * Develop and implement a maintenance schedule for ACH, pressure differentials, and filtration efficiencies using facility-specific data as part of the multidisciplinary risk assessment. Take into account the age and reliability of the system.
      • * Document these parameters, especially the pressure differentials.
    3. Engineer humidity controls into the HVAC system and monitor the controls to ensure proper moisture removal.120Category IC (AIA: 7.31.D9)
      • * Locate duct humidifiers upstream from the final filters.
      • * Incorporate a water-removal mechanism into the system.
      • * Locate all duct takeoffs sufficiently down-stream from the humidifier so that moisture is completely absorbed.
    4. Incorporate steam humidifiers, if possible, to reduce potential for microbial proliferation within the system, and avoid use of cool mist humidifiers. Category II
    5. Ensure that air intakes and exhaust outlets are located properly in construction of new facilities and renovation of existing facilities.3, 120 Category IC (AIA: 7.31.D3, 8.31.D3, 9.31.D3, 10.31.D3, 11.31.D3)
      • * Locate exhaust outlets >25 ft. from air-intake systems.
      • * Locate outdoor air intakes 6 ft. above ground or 3 ft. above roof level.
      • * Locate exhaust outlets from contaminated areas above roof level to minimize recirculation of exhausted air.
    6. Maintain air intakes and inspect filters periodically to ensure proper operation.3, 120, 249, 250, 273–275, 277 Category IC(AIA: 7.31.D8)
    7. Bag dust-filled filters immediately upon removal to prevent dispersion of dust and fungal spores during transport within the facility.106, 221 Category IB
      • * Seal or close the bag containing the discarded filter.
      • * Discard spent filters as regular solid waste, regardless of the area from which they were removed.221
    8. Remove bird roosts and nests near air intakes to prevent mites and fungal spores from entering the ventilation system.3, 98, 119 Category IB
    9. Prevent dust accumulation by cleaning air-duct grilles in accordance with facility-specific procedures and schedules when rooms are not occupied by patients.21, 120, 249, 250, 273–275, 277 Category IC, II (AIA: 7.31.D10)
    10. Periodically measure output to monitor system function; clean ventilation ducts as part of routine HVAC maintenance to ensure optimum performance.120, 263, 264 Category II (AIA: 7.31.D10)
  3. Use portable, industrial-grade HEPA filter units capable of filtration rates in the range of 300–800 ft3∕min. to augment removal of respirable particles as needed.219 Category II
    1. Select portable HEPA filters that can recirculate all or nearly all of the room air and provide the equivalent of ≥12 ACH.4 Category II
    2. Portable HEPA filter units previously placed in construction zones can be used later in patient-care areas, provided all internal and external surfaces are cleaned, and the filter’s performance verified by appropriate particle testing. Category II
    3. Situate portable HEPA units with the advice of facility engineers to ensure that all room air is filtered.4 Category II
    4. Ensure that fresh-air requirements for the area are met.214, 219 Category II
  4. Follow appropriate procedures for use of areas with through-the-wall ventilation units.120 Category IC (AIA: 8.31.D1, 8.31.D8, 9.31.D23, 10.31.D18, 11.31.D15)
    1. Do not use such areas as PE rooms.120 Category IC (AIA: 7.2.D3)
    2. Do not use a room with a through-the-wall ventilation unit as an AII room unless it can be demonstrated that all required AII engineering controls required are met.4, 120 Category IC (AIA: 7.2.C3)
  5. Conduct an infection-control risk assessment (ICRA) and provide an adequate number of AII and PE rooms (if required) or other areas to meet the needs of the patient population.4, 6, 9, 18, 19, 69, 94, 120, 142, 331–334, 336–338 Category IA, IC (AIA: 7.2.C, 7.2.D)
  6. When UVGI is used as a supplemental engineering control, install fixtures: Category II
    • * on the wall near the ceiling or suspended from the ceiling as an upper air unit;
    • * in the air-return duct of an AII room; or
    • * in designated enclosed areas or booths for sputum induction.4  
  7. Seal windows in buildings with centralized HVAC systems and especially with PE areas.35, 111, 120 Category IB, IC (AIA: 7.2.D3)
  8. Keep emergency doors and exits from PE rooms closed except during an emergency; equip emergency doors and exits with alarms. Category II
  9. Develop a contingency plan for backup capacity in the event of a general power failure.713 Category IC (Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations [JCAHO]: Environment of Care [EC] 1.4)
    1. Emphasize restoration of proper air quality and ventilation conditions in AII rooms, PE rooms, operating rooms, emergency departments, and intensive care units.120, 713 Category IC (AIA: 1.5.A1; JCAHO: EC 1.4)
    2. Deploy infection-control procedures to protect occupants until power and systems functions are restored.6, 120, 713Category IC (AIA: 5.1, 5.2; JCAHO: EC 1.4)
  10. Do not shut down HVAC systems in patient-care areas except for maintenance, repair, testing of emergency backup capacity, or new construction.120, 206 Category IB, IC (AIA: 5.1, 5.2.B, C)
    1. Coordinate HVAC system maintenance with infection-control staff to allow for relocation of immunocompromised patients if necessary.120 Category IC (AIA: 5.1, 5.2)
    2. Provide backup emergency power and air-handling and pressurization systems to maintain filtration, constant ACH, and pressure differentials in PE rooms, AII rooms, operating rooms, and other critical-care areas.9, 120, 278Category IC (AIA: 1.5, 5.1, 5.2)
    3. For areas not served by installed emergency ventilation and backup systems, use portable units and monitor ventilation parameters and patients in those areas.219 Category II
    4. Coordinate system startups with infection-control staff to protect patients in PE rooms from bursts of fungal spores.9, 35, 120, 278 Category IC (AIA: 5.1, 5.2) 120
    5. Allow sufficient time for ACH to clean the air once the system is operational (Appendix B, Table B.1).4, 120 Category IC  (AIA: 5.1, 5.2)
  11. HVAC systems serving offices and administration areas may be shut down for energy conservation purposes, but the shutdown must not alter or adversely affect pressure differentials maintained in laboratories or critical-care areas with specific ventilation requirements (i.e., PE rooms, AII rooms, operating rooms). Category II
  12. Whenever possible, avoid inactivating or shutting down the entire HVAC system at one time, especially in acute-care facilities. Category II
  13. Whenever feasible, design and install fixed backup ventilation systems for new or renovated construction for PE rooms, AII rooms, operating rooms, and other critical care areas identified by ICRA.120 Category IC (AIA: 1.5.A1)
C.II. Construction, Renovation, Remediation, Repair, and Demolition
Edit [February2017]

Update or clarification r13Edit: These recommendations contain minor edits in order to clarify the meaning. The edits do not constitute any change to the intent of the recommendations.
* Indicates a change to the numbering system.
~ Indicates a text change.

  1. Establish a multidisciplinary team that includes infection-control staff to coordinate demolition, construction, and renovation projects and consider proactive preventive measures at the inception; produce and maintain summary statements of the team’s activities.17, 19, 20, 97, 109, 120, 249, 250, 273–277 Category IB, IC (AIA: 5.1)
  2. Educate both the construction team and the health-care staff in immunocompromised patient-care areas regarding the airborne infection risks associated with construction projects, dispersal of fungal spores during such activities, and methods to control the dissemination of fungal spores.3, 249, 250, 273–277, 1428–1432 Category IB
  3. Incorporate mandatory adherence agreements for infection control into construction contracts, with penalties for noncompliance and mechanisms to ensure timely correction of problems.3, 120, 249, 273–277 Category IC (AIA: 5.1)
  4. Establish and maintain surveillance for airborne environmental disease (e.g., aspergillosis) as appropriate during construction, renovation, repair, and demolition activities to ensure the health and safety of immunocompromised patients.3, 64, 65, 79 Category IB
    1. Using active surveillance, monitor for airborne fungal infections in immunocompromised patients.3, 9, 64, 65Category IB
    2. Periodically review the facility’s microbiologic, histopathologic, and postmortem data to identify additional cases.3, 9, 64, 65 Category IB
    3. If cases of aspergillosis or other health-care associated airborne fungal infections occur, aggressively pursue the diagnosis with tissue biopsies and cultures as feasible.3, 64, 65, 79, 249, 273–277 Category IB
  5. Implement infection-control measures relevant to construction, renovation, maintenance, demolition, and repair.96, 97, 120, 276, 277 Category IB, IC (AIA: 5.1, 5.2)
    1. Before the project gets underway, perform an ICRA to define the scope of the project and the need for barrier measures.96, 97, 120, 249, 273–277 Category IB, IC (AIA: 5.1)
      • * Determine if immunocompromised patients may be at risk for exposure to fungal spores from dust generated during the project.20, 109, 273–275, 277
      • * Develop a contingency plan to prevent such exposures.20, 109, 273–275, 277
    2. Implement infection-control measures for external demolition and construction activities.50, 249, 273–277, 283Category IB
      • * Determine if the facility can operate temporarily on recirculated air; if feasible, seal off adjacent air intakes.
      • * If this is not possible or practical, check the low-efficiency (roughing) filter banks frequently and replace as needed to avoid buildup of particulates.
      • * Seal windows and reduce wherever possible other sources of outside air intrusion (e.g., open doors in stairwells and corridors), especially in PE areas.
    3. Avoid damaging the underground water distribution system (i.e., buried pipes) to prevent soil and dust contamination of the water.120, 305 Category IB, IC (AIA: 5.1) 121
    4. Implement infection-control measures for internal construction activities.20, 49, 97, 120, 249, 273–277 Category IB, IC (AIA: 5.1, 5.2)
      • * Construct barriers to prevent dust from construction areas from entering patient-care areas; ensure that barriers are impermeable to fungal spores and in compliance with local fire codes.20, 49, 97, 120, 284, 312, 713, 1431
      • * Block and seal off return air vents if rigid barriers are used for containment.120, 276, 277
      • * Implement dust control measures on surfaces and by diverting pedestrian traffic away from work zones.20, 49, 97, 120
      • * Relocate patients whose rooms are adjacent to work zones, depending upon their immune status, the scope of the project, the potential for generation of dust or water aerosols, and the methods used to control these aerosols.49, 120, 281
    5. Perform those engineering and work-site related infection-control measures as needed for internal construction, repairs, and renovations:20, 49, 97, 109, 120, 312 Category IB, IC (AIA: 5.1, 5.2)
      1. Ensure proper operation of the air-handling system in the affected area after erection of barriers and before the room or area is set to negative pressure.49, 69, 276, 278 Category IB
      2. Create and maintain negative air pressure in work zones adjacent to patient-care areas and ensure that required engineering controls are maintained.20, 49, 97, 109, 120, 132 Category IB
      3. Monitor negative air flow inside rigid barriers.120, 281 Category IC
      4. Monitor barriers and ensure the integrity of the construction barriers; repair gaps or breaks in barrier joints.120, 284, 307, 312 Category IC
      5. Seal windows in work zones if practical; use window chutes for disposal of large pieces of debris as needed, but ensure that the negative pressure differential for the area is maintained.20, 120, 273 Category IC
      6. Direct pedestrian traffic from construction zones away from patient-care areas to minimize the dispersion of dust.20, 49, 97, 109, 111, 120, 273–277 Category IB
      7. Provide construction crews with
        • * designated entrances, corridors, and elevators whenever practical;
        • * essential services [e.g., toilet facilities], and convenience services [e.g., vending machines];
        • * protective clothing [e.g., coveralls, footgear, and headgear] for travel to patient-care areas; and
        • * a space or anteroom for changing clothing and storing equipment.120, 249, 273–277Category IB
      8. Clean work zones and their entrances daily by
        • * wet-wiping tools and tool carts before their removal from the work zone;
        • * placing mats with tacky surfaces inside the entrance; and
        • * covering debris and securing this covering before removing debris from the work zone.120, 249, 273–277Category IB
      9. In patient-care areas, for major repairs that include removal of ceiling tiles and disruption of the space above the false ceiling, use plastic sheets or prefabricated plastic units to contain dust; use a negative pressure system within this enclosure to remove dust; and either pass air through an industrial grade, portable HEPA filter capable of filtration rates ranging from 300–800 ft3∕min., or exhaust air directly to the outside.49, 276, 277, 281, 309 Category IB
      10. Upon completion of the project, clean the work zone according to facility procedures, and install barrier curtains to contain dust and debris before removal of rigid barriers.20, 97, 120, 249, 273–277 ~ Category IB
      11. Flush the water system to clear sediment from pipes to minimize waterborne microorganism proliferation.120, 305 ~ Category IB
      12. Restore appropriate ACH, humidity, and pressure differential; clean or replace air filters; dispose of spent filters.35, 106, 221, 278 Category IC
  6. Use airborne-particle sampling as a tool to evaluate barrier integrity.35, 100 Category II
  7. Commission the HVAC system for newly constructed health-care facilities and renovated spaces before occupancy and use, with emphasis on ensuring proper ventilation for operating rooms, AII rooms, and PE areas.100, 120, 288, 304Category IC (AIA: 5.1; ASHRAE: 11996)
  8. No recommendation is offered on routine microbiologic air sampling before, during, or after construction or before or during occupancy of areas housing immunocompromised patients.17, 20, 49, 97, 109, 272, 1433 Unresolved issue
  9. If a case of health-care acquired aspergillosis or other opportunistic environmental airborne fungal disease occurs during or immediately after construction, implement appropriate follow-up measures.20, 55, 62, 77, 94, 95 Category IB
    1. Review pressure differential monitoring documentation to verify that pressure differentials in the construction zone and in PE rooms were appropriate for their settings.94, 95, 120 Category IB, IC (AIA: 5.1)
    2. Implement corrective engineering measures to restore proper pressure differentials as needed.94, 95, 120Category IB, IC (AIA: 5.1)
    3. Conduct a prospective search for additional cases and intensify retrospective epidemiologic review of the hospital’s medical and laboratory records.3, 20, 62, 63, 104 Category IB
    4. If there is no evidence of ongoing transmission, continue routine maintenance in the area to prevent health-care acquired fungal disease.3, 55 Category IB
  10. If there is epidemiologic evidence of ongoing transmission of fungal disease, conduct an environmental assessment to determine and eliminate the source.3, 96, 97, 109, 111, 115, 249, 273–277 Category IB
    1. Collect environmental samples from potential sources of airborne fungal spores, preferably using a high-volume air sampler rather than settle plates.3, 18, 44, 48, 49, 97, 106, 111, 112, 115, 249, 254, 273–277, 292, 312 Category IB
    2. If either an environmental source of airborne fungi or an engineering problem with filtration or pressure differentials is identified, promptly perform corrective measures to eliminate the source and route of entry.96, 97Category IB
    3. Use an EPA-registered anti-fungal biocide (e.g., copper-8-quinolinolate) for decontaminating structural materials.50, 277, 312, 329 Category IB
    4. If an environmental source of airborne fungi is not identified, review infection control measures, including engineering controls, to identify potential areas for correction or improvement.73, 117 Category IB
    5. If possible, perform molecular subtyping of Aspergillus spp. isolated from patients and the environment to establish strain identities.252, 293–296 Category II
  11. If air-supply systems to high-risk areas (e.g., PE rooms) are not optimal, use portable, industrial-grade HEPA filters on a temporary basis until rooms with optimal air-handling systems become available.3, 120, 273–277 Category II
C.III. Infection-Control and Ventilation Requirements for PE Rooms
Edit [February2017]

Update or clarification r13Edit: These recommendations contain minor edits in order to clarify the meaning. The edits do not constitute any change to the intent of the recommendations.
* Indicates a change to the numbering system.
~ Indicates a text change.

  1. Minimize exposures of severely immunocompromised patients (e.g., solid organ transplant patients or allogeneic neutropenic patients) to activities that might cause aerosolization of fungal spores (e.g., vacuuming or disruption of ceiling tiles).9, 20, 109, 272 Category IB
  2. Minimize the length of time that immunocompromised patients in PE are outside their rooms for diagnostic procedures and other activities.9, 283 Category IB
  3. Provide respiratory protection for severely immunocompromised patients when they must leave PE for diagnostic studies and other activities; consult the most recent revision of CDC’s Guidelines for Prevention of Health-Care Associated Pneumonia for information regarding the appropriate type of respiratory protection.3, 9 Category II
  4. Incorporate ventilation engineering specifications and dust-controlling processes into the planning and construction of new PE units. Category IB, IC
    1. Install central or point-of-use HEPA filters for supply (incoming) air.3, 18, 20, 44, 99–104, 120, 254, 316–318, 1432, 1434Category IB, IC (AIA: 5.1, 5.2, 7.2.D)
    2. Ensure that rooms are well sealed by
      • * properly constructing windows, doors, and intake and exhaust ports;
      • * maintaining ceilings that are smooth and free of fissures, open joints, and crevices;
      • * sealing walls above and below the ceiling, and
      • * monitoring for leakage and making necessary repairs.3, 111, 120, 317, 318 (AIA: 7.2.D3) Category IB, IC
    3. Ventilate the room to maintain ≥12 ACH.3, 9, 120, 241, 317, 318 Category IC (AIA: 7.2.D)
    4. Locate air supply and exhaust grilles so that clean, filtered air enters from one side of the room, flows across the patient’s bed, and exits from the opposite side of the room. 3, 120, 317, 318 Category IC (AIA: 7.31.D1)
    5. Maintain positive room air pressure (≥2.5 Pa [0.01-inch water gauge]) in relation to the corridor.3, 35, 120, 317, 318Category IB, IC (AIA: Table 7.2)
    6. Maintain airflow patterns and monitor these on a daily basis by using permanently installed visual means of detecting airflow in new or renovated construction, or using other visual methods (e.g., flutter strips, or smoke tubes) in existing PE units. Document the monitoring results.120, 273 Category IC (AIA: 7.2.D6)
    7. Install self-closing devices on all room exit doors in protective environments.120 Category IC (AIA: 7.2.D4)
  5. Do not use laminar air flow systems in newly constructed PE rooms.316, 318 Category II
  6. Take measures to protect immunocompromised patients who would benefit from a PE room and who also have an airborne infectious disease (e.g., acute VZV infection or tuberculosis).
    1. Ensure that the patient’s room is designed to maintain positive pressure. Category IC
    2. Use an anteroom to ensure appropriate air balance relationships and provide independent exhaust of contaminated air to the outside, or place a HEPA filter in the exhaust duct if the return air must be recirculated.120, 317 Category IC (AIA: 7.2.D1, A7.2.D)
    3. If an anteroom is not available, place the patient in AII and use portable, industrial-grade HEPA filters to enhance filtration of spores in the room.219 Category II
  7. Maintain backup ventilation equipment (e.g., portable units for fans or filters) for emergency provision of ventilation requirements for PE areas and take immediate steps to restore the fixed ventilation system function.9, 120, 278Category IC (AIA: 5.1)
C.IV. Infection-Control and Ventilation Requirements for All Rooms
Edit [February 2017]
Update or clarification r7 Edit: An * indicates recommendations that were renumbered for clarity. The renumbering does not constitute change to the intent of the recommendations.
  1. Incorporate certain specifications into the planning, and construction or renovation of AII units.4, 107, 120, 317, 318Category IB, IC
    1. Maintain continuous negative air pressure (2.5 Pa [0.01-inch water gauge]) in relation to the air pressure in the corridor; monitor air pressure periodically, preferably daily, with audible manometers or smoke tubes at the door (for existing AII rooms) or with a permanently installed visual monitoring mechanism. Document the results of monitoring.120, 317, 31Category IB, IC (AIA: 7.2.C7, Table 7.2)
    2. Ensure that rooms are well-sealed by properly constructing windows, doors, and air-intake and exhaust ports; when monitoring indicates air leakage, locate the leak and make necessary repairs.120, 317, 318 Category IB, IC (AIA: 7.2.C3)
    3. Install self-closing devices on all AII room exit doors.120 Category IC (AIA: 7.2.C4)
    4. Provide ventilation to ensure ≥12 ACH for renovated rooms and new rooms, and ≥6 ACH for existing AII rooms.4, 107, 120 Category IC (AIA: Table 7.2)
    5. Direct exhaust air to the outside, away from air-intake and populated areas. If this is not practical, air from the room can be recirculated after passing through a HEPA filter.4, 120 Category IC (AIA: Table 7.2)
  2. Where supplemental engineering controls for air cleaning are indicated from a risk assessment of the AII area, install UVGI units in the exhaust air ducts of the HVAC system to supplement HEPA filtration or install UVGI fixtures on or near the ceiling to irradiate upper room air.4 Category II
  3. Implement environmental infection-control measures for persons with known or suspected airborne infectious diseases.
    1. Use AII rooms for patients with or suspected of having an airborne infection who also require cough-inducing procedures, or use an enclosed booth that is engineered to provide
      • * ≥12 ACH;
      • * air supply and exhaust rate sufficient to maintain a 2.5 Pa [0.01-inch water gauge] negative pressure difference with respect to all surrounding spaces with an exhaust rate of ≥50 ft3∕min.; and
      • * air exhausted directly outside away from air intakes and traffic or exhausted after HEPA filtration prior to recirculation.4, 120, 348–350 Category IB, IC (AIA: 7.15.E, 7.31.D23, 9.10, Table 7.2)
    2. Although airborne spread of viral hemorrhagic fever (VHF) has not been documented in a health-care setting, prudence dictates placing a VHF patient in an AII room, preferably with an anteroom to reduce the risk of occupational exposure to aerosolized infectious material in blood, vomitus, liquid stool, and respiratory secretions present in large amounts during the end stage of a patient’s illness.202–204
      • * If an anteroom is not available, use portable, industrial-grade HEPA filters in the patient’s room to provide additional ACH equivalents for removing airborne particulates.
      • * Ensure that health-care workers wear face shields or goggles with appropriate respirators when entering the rooms of VHF patients with prominent cough, vomiting, diarrhea, or hemorrhage.203 Category II
Ebola Virus Disease [August 2014]

Update or clarification r9 Update: The recommendations in this guideline for Ebola has been superseded by these CDC documents:

See CDC’s Ebola Virus Disease website for current information on how Ebola virus is transmitted.

  1. Place smallpox patients in negative pressure rooms at the onset of their illness, preferably using a room with an anteroom if available.6 Category II
  1. No recommendation is offered regarding negative pressure or isolation rooms for patients with Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia.126, 131, 132 Unresolved issue
  2. Maintain back-up ventilation equipment (e.g., portable units for fans or filters) for emergency provision of ventilation requirements for AII rooms and take immediate steps to restore the fixed ventilation system function.4, 120, 278Category IC (AIA: 5.1)
C.V. Infection-Control and Ventilation Requirements for Operating Rooms
  1. Implement environmental infection-control and ventilation measures for operating rooms.
    1. Maintain positive-pressure ventilation with respect to corridors and adjacent areas.7, 120, 356 Category IB, IC (AIA: Table 7.2)
    2. Maintain ≥15 ACH, of which ≥3 ACH should be fresh air.120, 357, 358 Category IC (AIA: Table 7.2)
    3. Filter all recirculated and fresh air through the appropriate filters, providing 90% efficiency (dust-spot testing) at a minimum.120, 362 Category IC (AIA: Table 7.3)
    4. In rooms not engineered for horizontal laminar airflow, introduce air at the ceiling and exhaust air near the floor.120, 357, 359 Category IC (AIA: 7.31.D4)
    5. Do not use UV lights to prevent surgical-site infections.356, 364–370 Category IB
    6. Keep operating room doors closed except for the passage of equipment, personnel, and patients, and limit entry to essential personnel.351, 352 Category IB
  2. Follow precautionary procedures for TB patients who also require emergency surgery.4, 347, 371 Category IB, IC
    1. Use an N95 respirator approved by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) without exhalation valves in the operating room.347, 372 Category IC (Occupational Safety and Health Administration [OSHA]; 29 Code of Federal Regulations [CFR] 1910.134,139)
    2. Intubate the patient in either the AII room or the operating room; if intubating the patient in the operating room, do not allow the doors to open until 99% of the airborne contaminants are removed (Appendix B, Table B.1).4, 358Category IB
    3. When anesthetizing a patient with confirmed or suspected TB, place a bacterial filter between the anesthesia circuit and patient’s airway to prevent contamination of anesthesia equipment or discharge of tubercle bacilli into the ambient air.371, 373 Category IB
    4. Extubate and allow the patient to recover in an AII room.4, 358 Category IB
    5. If the patient has to be extubated in the operating room, allow adequate time for ACH to clean 99% of airborne particles from the air (Appendix B, Table B.1) because extubation is a cough-producing procedure.4, 358 Category IB
  3. Use portable, industrial-grade HEPA filters temporarily for supplemental air cleaning during intubation and extubation for infectious TB patients who require surgery.4, 219, 358 Category II
    1. Position the units appropriately so that all room air passes through the filter; obtain engineering consultation to determine the appropriate placement of the unit.4 Category II
    2. Switch the portable unit off during the surgical procedure. Category II
    3. Provide fresh air as per ventilation standards for operating rooms; portable units do not meet the requirements for the number of fresh ACH.120, 215, 219 Category II
  4. If possible, schedule infectious TB patients as the last surgical cases of the day to maximize the time available for removal of airborne contamination. Category II
  5. No recommendation is offered for performing orthopedic implant operations in rooms supplied with laminar airflow.362, 364 Unresolved issue
  6. Maintain backup ventilation equipment (e.g., portable units for fans or filters) for emergency provision of ventilation requirements for operating rooms, and take immediate steps to restore the fixed ventilation system function.68, 120, 278,372 Category IB, IC (AIA: 5.1)
C.VI. Other Potential Infectious Aerosol Hazards in Health-Care Facilities
  1. In settings where surgical lasers are used, wear appropriate personal protective equipment, including N95 or N100 respirators, to minimize exposure to laser plumes.347, 378, 389 Category IC (OSHA; 29 CFR 1910.134,139)
  2. Use central wall suction units with in-line filters to evacuate minimal laser plumes.378, 382, 386, 389 Category II
  3. Use a mechanical smoke evacuation system with a high-efficiency filter to manage the generation of large amounts of laser plume, when ablating tissue infected with human papilloma virus (HPV) or performing procedures on a patient with extrapulmonary TB.4, 382, 389– 392 Category II
D. Water
D.I. Controlling the Spread of Waterborne Microoganisms
  1. Practice hand hygiene to prevent the hand transfer of waterborne pathogens, and use barrier precautions (e.g., gloves) as defined by other guidelines.6, 464, 577, 586, 592, 1364 Category IA
  2. Eliminate contaminated water or fluid environmental reservoirs (e.g., in equipment or solutions) wherever possible.464, 465 Category IB
  3. Clean and disinfect sinks and wash basins on a regular basis by using an EPA-registered product as set by facility policies. Category II
  4. Evaluate for possible environmental sources (e.g., potable water) of specimen contamination when waterborne microorganisms (e.g., NTM) of unlikely clinical importance are isolated from clinical cultures (e.g., specimens collected aseptically from sterile sites or, if post-procedural, colonization occurs after use of tap water in patient care).607, 610–612Category IB
  5. Avoid placing decorative fountains and fish tanks in patient-care areas; ensure disinfection and fountain maintenance if decorative fountains are used in the public areas of the healthcare facility.664 Category IB
D.II. Routine Prevention of Waterborne Microbial Contamination Within the Distribution System
  1. Maintain hot water temperature at the return at the highest temperature allowable by state regulations or codes, preferably ≥124°F (≥51°C), and maintain cold water temperature at <68°F (<20°C).3, 661 Category IC (States; ASHRAE: 12:2000)
  2. If the hot water temperature can be maintained at ≥124°F (≥51°C), explore engineering options (e.g., install preset thermostatic valves in point-of-use fixtures) to help minimize the risk of scalding.661 Category II
  3. When state regulations or codes do not allow hot water temperatures above the range of 105°F–120°F (40.6°C–49°C) for hospitals or 95°F–110°F (35°C–43.3°C) for nursing care facilities or when buildings cannot be retrofitted for thermostatic mixing valves, follow either of these alternative preventive measures to minimize the growth of Legionella spp. in water systems. Category II
    1. Periodically increase the hot water temperature to ≥150°F (≥66°C) at the point of use.661 Category II
    2. Alternatively, chlorinate the water and then flush it through the system.661, 710, 711 Category II
  4. Maintain constant recirculation in hot-water distribution systems serving patient-care areas. 120  Category IC (AIA: 7.31.E.3)
D.III. Remediation Strategies for Distribution System Repair or Emergencies
Edit [February 2017]
Update or clarification r7 Edit: An * indicates recommendations that were renumbered for clarity. The renumbering does not constitute change to the intent of the recommendations.
  1. Whenever possible, disconnect the ice machine before planned water disruptions. Category II
  2. Prepare a contingency plan to estimate water demands for the entire facility in advance of significant water disruptions (i.e., those expected to result in extensive and heavy microbial or chemical contamination of the potable water), sewage intrusion, or flooding.713, 719 Category IC (JCAHO: EC 1.4)
  3. When a significant water disruption or an emergency occurs, adhere to any advisory to boil water issued by the municipal water utility.642 Category IB, IC (Municipal order)
    1. Alert patients, families, staff, and visitors not to consume water from drinking fountains, ice, or drinks made from municipal tap water, while the advisory is in effect, unless the water has been disinfected (e.g., by bringing to a rolling boil for ≥1 minute).642 Category IB, IC (Municipal order)
    2. After the advisory is lifted, run faucets and drinking fountains at full flow for ≥5 minutes, or use high-temperature water flushing or chlorination.642, 661 Category IC, II (Municipal order; ASHRAE 12:2000)
  4. Maintain a high level of surveillance for waterborne disease among patients after a boil water advisory is lifted. Category II
  5. Corrective decontamination of the hot water system might be necessary after a disruption in service or a cross-connection with sewer lines has occurred.
    1. Decontaminate the system when the fewest occupants are present in the building (e.g., nights or weekends).3, 661Category IC (ASHRAE: 12:2000)
    2. If using high-temperature decontamination, raise the hot-water temperature to 160°F– 170°F (71°C–77°C) and maintain that level while progressively flushing each outlet around the system for ≥5 minutes.3, 661 Category IC(ASHRAE: 12:2000)
    3. If using chlorination, add enough chlorine, preferably overnight, to achieve a free chlorine residual of ≥2 mg∕L (≥2 ppm) throughout the system.661
      • * Flush each outlet until chlorine odor is detected.
      • * Maintain the elevated chlorine concentration in the system for ≥2 hrs (but ≤24 hrs).
    4. Use a very thorough flushing of the water system instead of chlorination if a highly chlorine-resistant microorganism (e.g., Cryptosporidium spp.) is suspected as the water contaminant. Category II
  6. Flush and restart equipment and fixtures according to manufacturers’ instructions. Category II
  7. Change the pretreatment filter and disinfect the dialysis water system with an EPA-registered product to prevent colonization of the reverse osmosis membrane and downstream microbial contamination.721 Category II
  8. Run water softeners through a regeneration cycle to restore their capacity and function. Category II
  9. If the facility has a water-holding reservoir or water-storage tank, consult the facility engineer or local health department to determine whether this equipment needs to be drained, disinfected with an EPA-registered product, and refilled. Category II
  10. Implement facility management procedures to manage a sewage system failure or flooding (e.g., arranging with other health-care facilities for temporary transfer of patients or provision of services), and establish communications with the local municipal water utility and the local health department to ensure that advisories are received in a timely manner upon release.713, 719 Category IC (JCAHO: EC 1.4; Municipal order)
  11. Implement infection-control measures during sewage intrusion, flooding, or other water-related emergencies.
    1. Relocate patients and clean or sterilize supplies from affected areas. Category II
    2. If hands are not visibly soiled or contaminated with proteinaceous material, include an alcohol-based hand rub in the hand hygiene process
      • * before performing invasive procedures;
      • * before and after each patient contact; and
      • * whenever hand hygiene is indicated.1364 Category II
    3. If hands are visibly soiled or contaminated with proteinaceous material, use soap and bottled water for handwashing.1364 Category II
    4. If the potable water system is not affected by flooding or sewage contamination, process surgical instruments for sterilization according to standard procedures. Category II
    5. Contact the manufacturer of the automated endoscope reprocessor (AER) for specific instructions on the use of this equipment during a water advisory. Category II
  12. Remediate the facility after sewage intrusion, flooding, or other water-related emergencies.
    1. Close off affected areas during cleanup procedures. Category II
    2. Ensure that the sewage system is fully functional before beginning remediation so contaminated solids and standing water can be removed. Category II
    3. If hard-surface equipment, floors, and walls remain in good repair, ensure that these are dry within 72 hours; clean with detergent according to standard cleaning procedures. Category II
    4. Clean wood furniture and materials (if still in good repair); allow them to dry thoroughly before restoring varnish or other surface coatings. Category II
    5. Contain dust and debris during remediation and repair as outlined in air recommendations (Air: II G 4, 5). Category II
  13. Regardless of the original source of water damage (e.g., flooding versus water leaks from point-of-use fixtures or roofs), remove wet, absorbent structural items (e.g., carpeting, wallboard, and wallpaper) and cloth furnishings if they cannot be easily and thoroughly cleaned and dried within 72 hours (e.g., moisture content ≤20% as determined by moisture meter readings); replace with new materials as soon as the underlying structure is declared by the facility engineer to be thoroughly dry.18, 266, 278, 1026 Category IB
D.IV. Additional Engineering Measures as Indicated by Epidemiologic Investigation for Controlling Waterborne, Health-Care Associated Legionnaires Disease
  1. When using a pulse or one-time decontamination method, superheat the water by flushing each outlet for ≥5 minutes with water at 160°F–170°F (71°C–77°C) or hyperchlorinate the system by flushing all outlets for ≥5 minutes with water containing ≥2 mg∕L (≥2 ppm) free residual chlorine using a chlorine-based product registered by the EPA for water treatment (e.g., sodium hypochlorite [chlorine bleach]).661, 711, 714, 724, 764, 766 Category IB (ASHRAE: 12:2000)
  2. After a pulse treatment, maintain both the heated water temperature at the return and the cold water temperature as per the recommendation (Water: IIA) wherever practical and permitted by state codes, or chlorinate heated water to achieve 1–2 mg∕L (1–2 ppm) free residual chlorine at the tap using a chlorine-based product registered by the EPA for water treatment (e.g., sodium hypochlorite [bleach]).26, 437, 661, 709, 726, 727 Category IC (States; ASHRAE: 12:2000)
  3. Explore engineering or educational options (e.g., install preset thermostatic mixing valves in point-of-use fixtures or post warning signs at each outlet) to minimize the risk of scalding for patients, visitors, and staff. Category II
  4. No recommendation is offered for treating water in the facility’s distribution system with chlorine dioxide, heavy-metal ions (e.g., copper or silver), monochloramine, ozone, or UV light.728–746 Unresolved issue
D.V. General Infection-Control Strategies for Preventing Legionnaires Disease
  1. Conduct an infection-control risk assessment of the facility to determine if patients at risk or severely immunocompromised patients are present.3, 431, 432 Category IB
  2. Implement general strategies for detecting and preventing Legionnaires disease in facilities that do not provide care for severely immunocompromised patients (i.e., facilities that do not have HSCT or solid organ transplant programs).3, 431, 432 Category IB
    1. Establish a surveillance process to detect health-care associated Legionnaires disease.3, 431, 432 Category IB
    2. Inform health-care personnel (e.g., infection control, physicians, patient-care staff, and engineering) regarding the potential for Legionnaires disease to occur and measures to prevent and control health-care associated legionellosis.437, 759 Category IB
    3. Establish mechanisms to provide clinicians with laboratory tests (e.g., culture, urine antigen, direct fluorescence assay [DFA], and serology) for the diagnosis of Legionnaires disease.3, 431 Category IB
  3. Maintain a high index of suspicion for health-care associated Legionnaires disease, and perform laboratory diagnostic tests for legionellosis on suspected cases, especially in patients at risk who do not require a PE for care (e.g., patients receiving systemic steroids; patients aged ≥65 years; or patients with chronic underlying disease [e.g., diabetes mellitus, congestive heart failure, or chronic obstructive lung disease]).3, 395, 417, 423–425, 432, 435, 437, 453 Category IA
  4. Periodically review the availability and clinicians’ use of laboratory diagnostic tests for Legionnaires disease in the facility; if clinicians’ use of the tests on patients with diagnosed or suspected pneumonia is limited, implement measures (e.g., an educational campaign) to enhance clinicians’ use of the test(s).453 Category IB
  5. If one case of laboratory-confirmed, health-care associated Legionnaires disease is identified, or if two or more cases of laboratory-suspected, health-care associated Legionnaires disease occur during a 6-month period, certain activities should be initiated.405, 408, 431, 453, 739, 759 Category IB
    1. Report the cases to the state and local health departments where required. Category IC (States)
    2. If the facility does not treat severely immunocompromised patients, conduct an epidemiologic investigation, including retrospective review of microbiologic, serologic, and postmortem data to look for previously unidentified cases of healthcare–associated Legionnaires disease, and begin intensive prospective surveillance for additional cases.3, 405, 408, 431, 453, 739, 759 Category IB
    3. If no evidence of continued health-care associated transmission exists, continue intensive prospective surveillance for ≥2 months after the initiation of surveillance.3, 405, 408, 431, 453, 739, 759 Category IB
  6. If there is evidence of continued health-care associated transmission (i.e., an outbreak), conduct an environmental assessment to determine the source of Legionella spp.403–410, 455 Category IB
    1. Collect water samples from potential aerosolized water sources (Appendix C).1209 Category IB
    2. Save and subtype isolates of Legionella spp. obtained from patients and the environment.403–410, 453, 763, 764Category IB
    3. If a source is identified, promptly institute water system decontamination measures per recommendations (see Water IV).766, 767 Category IB
    4. If Legionella spp. are detected in ≥1cultures (e.g., conducted at 2-week intervals during 3 months), reassess the control measures, modify them accordingly, and repeat the decontamination procedures; consider intensive use of techniques used for initial decontamination, or a combination of superheating and hyperchlorination.3, 767, 768Category IB
  7. If an environmental source is not identified during a Legionnaires disease outbreak, continue surveillance for new cases for ≥2 months. Either defer decontamination pending identification of the source of Legionella spp., or proceed with decontamination of the hospital’s water distribution system, with special attention to areas involved in the outbreak. Category II
  8. No recommendation is offered regarding routine culturing of water systems in health-care facilities that do not have patient-care areas (i.e., PE or transplant units) for persons at high risk for Legionella spp. infection. 26, 453, 707, 709, 714, 747, 753 Unresolved issue
  9. No recommendation is offered regarding the removal of faucet aerators in areas for immunocompetent patients. Unresolved issue
  10. Keep adequate records of all infection-control measures and environmental test results for potable water systems. Category II
D.VI. Preventing Legionnaires Disease in Protective Environments and Transplant Units
  1. When implementing strategies for preventing Legionnaires disease among severely immunosuppressed patients housed in facilities with HSCT or solid-organ transplant programs, incorporate these specific surveillance and epidemiologic measures in addition to the steps previously outlined (Water: V and Appendix C).
    1. Maintain a high index of suspicion for legionellosis in transplant patients even when environmental surveillance cultures do not yield legionellae.430, 431 Category IB
    2. If a case occurs in a severely immunocompromised patient, or if severely immunocompromised patients are present in high-risk areas of the hospital (e.g., PE or transplant units) and cases are identified elsewhere in the facility, conduct a combined epidemiologic and environmental investigation to determine the source of Legionella spp. 431, 767 Category IB
  2. Implement culture strategies and potable water and fixture treatment measures in addition to those previously outlined (Water: V). Category II
    1. Depending on state regulations on potable water temperature in public buildings,725 hospitals housing patients at risk for health-care associated legionellosis should either maintain heated water with a minimum return temperature of ≥124°F [≥51°C] and cold water at <68°F [<20°C]), or chlorinate heated water to achieve 1–2 mg∕L (1–2 ppm) of free residual chlorine at the tap.26, 441, 661, 709–711, 726, 727 Category II
    2. Periodic culturing for legionellae in potable water samples from HSCT or solid-organ transplant units can be performed as part of a comprehensive strategy to prevent Legionnaires disease in these units.9, 431, 710, 769Category II
    3. No recommendation is offered regarding the optimal methodology (i.e., frequency or number of sites) for environmental surveillance cultures in HSCT or solid organ transplant units. Unresolved issue
    4. In areas with patients at risk, when Legionella spp. are not detectable in unit water, remove, clean, and disinfect shower heads and tap aerators monthly by using a chlorine-based, EPA-registered product. If an EPA-registered chlorine disinfectant is not available, use a chlorine bleach solution (500–615 ppm [1:100 v/v dilution]).661, 745Category II
  3. If Legionella spp. are determined to be present in the water of a transplant unit, implement certain measures until Legionella spp. are no longer detected by culture.
    1. Decontaminate the water supply as outlined previously (Water: IV).3, 9, 661, 766, 767 Category IB
    2. Do not use water from the faucets in patient-care rooms to avoid creating infectious aerosols.9, 412 Category IB
    3. Restrict severely immunocompromised patients from taking showers.9, 412 Category IB
    4. Use water that is not contaminated with Legionella spp. for HSCT patients’ sponge baths.9, 412 Category IB
    5. Provide patients with sterile water for tooth brushing, drinking, and for flushing nasogastric tubing during legionellosis outbreaks.9, 412 Category IB
  4. Do not use large-volume room air humidifiers that create aerosols (e.g., by Venturi principle, ultrasound, or spinning disk) unless they are subjected to high-level disinfection and filled only with sterile water.3, 9, 402, 455 Category IB
D.VII. Cooling Towers and Evaporative Condensers
  1. When planning construction of new health-care facilities, locate cooling towers so that the drift is directed away from the air-intake system, and design the towers to minimize the volume of aerosol drift.404, 661, 786 Category IC (ASHRAE: 12:2000) 131
  2. Implement infection-control procedures for operational cooling towers.404, 661, 784 Category IC (ASHRAE: 12:2000)
    1. Install drift eliminators.404, 661, 784 Category IC (ASHRAE: 12:2000)
    2. Use an effective EPA-registered biocide on a regular basis.661 Category IC (ASHRAE: 12:2000)
    3. Maintain towers according to manufacturers’ recommendations, and keep detailed maintenance and infection control records, including environmental test results from legionellosis outbreak investigations.661 Category IC(ASHRAE: 12:2000)
  3. If cooling towers or evaporative condensers are implicated in health-care associated legionellosis, decontaminate the cooling-tower system.404, 405, 786, 787 Category IB
D.VIII. Dialysis Water Quality and Dialysate
Edit [February 2017]
Update or clarification r7 Edit: An * indicates recommendations that were renumbered for clarity. The renumbering does not constitute change to the intent of the recommendations.
  1. Adhere to current AAMI standards for quality assurance performance of devices and equipment used to treat, store, and distribute water in hemodialysis centers (both acute and maintenance [chronic] settings) and for the preparation of concentrates and dialysate.31, 32, 666–668, 789, 791, 800, 807, 809, 1454, 1455 Category IA, IC (AAMI: ANSI/AAMI RD5:1992, ANSI/AAMI RD 47:1993)
  2. No recommendation is offered regarding whether more stringent requirements for water quality should be imposed in hemofiltration and hemodiafiltration. Unresolved issue
  3. Conduct microbiological testing specific to water in dialysis settings.789, 791, 792, 834, 835 Category IAIC (AAMI: ANSI/AAMI RD 5: 1992, ANSI/AAMI RD 47: 1993, ANSI/AAMI RD 62:2001)
    1. Perform bacteriologic assays of water and dialysis fluids at least once a month and during outbreaks using standard quantitative methods.792, 834, 835 Category IA, IC (AAMI: ANSI/AAMI RD 62:2001)
      • * Assay for heterotrophic, mesophilic bacteria (e.g., Pseudomonas spp).
      • * Do not use nutrient-rich media (e.g., blood agar or chocolate agar).
    2. In conjunction with microbiological testing, perform endotoxin testing on product water used to reprocess dialyzers for multiple use.789, 791, 806, 811, 816, 829 Category IA, IC (AAMI: ANSI/AAMI RD 5:1992, ANSI/AAMI RD 47:1993)
    3. Ensure that water does not exceed the limits for microbial counts and endotoxin concentrations outlined in Table 18.789, 791, 800 Category IA, IC (AAMI: ANSI/AAMI RD 5:1992, ANSI/AAMI RD 47:1993)
  4. Disinfect water distribution systems in dialysis settings on a regular schedule. Monthly disinfection is recommended.666–668, 792, 800 Category IA, IC (AAMI: ANSI/AAMI RD62:2001)
  5. Whenever practical, design and engineer water systems in dialysis settings to avoid incorporating joints, dead-end pipes, and unused branches and taps that can harbor bacteria.666–668, 792, 800 Category IA, IC (AAMI: ANSI/AAMI RD62:2001)
  6. When storage tanks are used in dialysis systems, they should be routinely drained, disinfected with an EPA-registered product, and fitted with an ultrafilter or pyrogenic filter (membrane filter with a pore size sufficient to remove small particles and molecules ≥1 kilodalton) installed in the water line distal to the storage tank.792 Category IC (AAMI: ANSI/AAMI RD62:2001)
D.IX. Ice Machines and Ice
  1. Do not handle ice directly by hand, and wash hands before obtaining ice. Category II
  2. Use a smooth-surface ice scoop to dispense ice.680, 863 Category II
    1. Keep the ice scoop on a chain short enough the scoop cannot touch the floor, or keep the scoop on a clean, hard surface when not in use.680, 863 Category II
    2. Do not store the ice scoop in the ice bin. Category II
  3. Do not store pharmaceuticals or medical solutions on ice intended for consumption; use sterile ice to keep medical solutions cold, or use equipment specifically manufactured for this purpose.600, 863 Category IB
  4. Machines that dispense ice are preferred to those that require ice to be removed from bins or chests with a scoop.687, 869 Category II
  5. Limit access to ice-storage chests, and keep the container doors closed except when removing ice.863 Category II
  6. Clean, disinfect, and maintain ice-storage chests on a regular basis. Category II
    1. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning. Category II
    2. Use an EPA-registered disinfectant suitable for use on ice machines, dispensers, or storage chests in accordance with label instructions. Category II
    3. If instructions and EPA-registered disinfectants suitable for use on ice machines are not available, use a general cleaning/disinfecting regimen as outlined in Box 12.863 Category II
    4. Flush and clean the ice machines and dispensers if they have not been disconnected before anticipated lengthy water disruptions. Category II
  7. Install proper air gaps where the condensate lines meet the waste lines. Category II
  8. Conduct microbiologic sampling of ice, ice chests, and ice-making machines and dispensers where indicated during an epidemiologic investigation.861–863 Category IB
D.X. Hydrotherapy Tanks and Pools
  1. Drain and clean hydrotherapy equipment (e.g., Hubbard tanks, tubs, whirlpools, whirlpool spas, or birthing tanks) after each patient’s use, and disinfect equipment surfaces and components by using an EPA-registered product in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. Category II
  2. In the absence of an EPA-registered product for water treatment, add sodium hypochlorite to the water:
    1. Maintain a 15-ppm chlorine residual in the water of small hydrotherapy tanks, Hubbard tanks, and tubs.889Category II
    2. Maintain a 2–5 ppm chlorine residual in the water of whirlpools and whirlpool spas.905 Category II
    3. If the pH of the municipal water is in the basic range (e.g., when chloramine is used as the primary drinking water disinfectant in the community), consult the facility engineer regarding the possible need to adjust the pH of the water to a more acid level before disinfection, to enhance the biocidal activity of chlorine.894 Category II
  3. Clean and disinfect hydrotherapy equipment after using tub liners. Category II
  4. Clean and disinfect inflatable tubs unless they are single-use equipment. Category II
  5. No recommendation is offered regarding the use of antiseptic chemicals (e.g., chloramine-T) in the water during hydrotherapy sessions. Unresolved issue
  6. Conduct a risk assessment of patients prior to their use of large hydrotherapy pools, deferring patients with draining wounds or fecal incontinence from pool use until their condition resolves. Category II
  7. For large hydrotherapy pools, use pH and chlorine residual levels appropriate for an indoor pool as provided by local and state health agencies. Category IC (States)
  8. No recommendation is offered regarding the use in health care of whirlpools or spa equipment manufactured for home or recreational use. Unresolved issue
D.XI. Miscellaneous Medical Equipment Connected to Water Systems
Edit [February 2017]
Update or clarification r7 Edit: An * indicates recommendations that were renumbered for clarity. The renumbering does not constitute change to the intent of the recommendations.
  1. Clean, disinfect, and maintain AER equipment according to the manufacturer’s instructions and relevant scientific literature to prevent inadvertent contamination of endoscopes and bronchoscopes with waterborne microorganisms.911–915 Category IB
    1. To rinse disinfected endoscopes and bronchoscopes, use water of the highest quality practical for the system’s engineering and design (e.g., sterile water or bacteriologically-filtered water [water filtered through 0.1–0.2-μm filters]).912, 914, 915, 918 Category IB
    2. Dry the internal channels of the reprocessed endoscope or bronchoscope using a proven method (e.g., 70% alcohol followed by forced-air treatment) to lessen the potential for the proliferation of waterborne microorganisms and to help prevent biofilm formation.671, 921, 923, 925, 928 Category IB
  2. Use water that meets nationally recognized standards set by the EPA for drinking water (<500 CFU∕mL for heterotrophic plate count) for routine dental treatment output water.935, 936, 943, 944 Category IB, IC (EPA: 40 CFR 1 Part 141, Subpart G).
  3. Take precautions to prevent waterborne contamination of dental unit water lines and instruments.
    1. After each patient, discharge water and air for a minimum of 20–30 seconds from any dental device connected to the dental water system that enters the patient’s mouth (e.g., handpieces, ultrasonic scalers, and air/water syringe).936, 937 Category II
    2. Consult with dental water-line manufacturers to
      • * determine suitable methods and equipment to obtain the recommended water quality; and
      • * determine appropriate methods for monitoring the water to ensure quality is maintained.936, 946 Category II
    3. Consult with the dental unit manufacturer on the need for periodic maintenance of anti-retraction mechanisms.937, 946 Category IB
E. Environmental Services
E.I. Cleaning and Disinfecting Strategies for Environmental Surfaces in Patient-Care Areas
Edit [February 2017]
Update or clarification r7 Edit: An * indicates recommendations that were renumbered for clarity. The renumbering does not constitute change to the intent of the recommendations.
  1. Select EPA-registered disinfectants, if available, and use them in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.2, 974, 983 Category IB, IC (EPA: 7 United States Code [USC] § 136 et seq)
  2. Do not use high-level disinfectants/liquid chemical sterilants for disinfection of either noncritical instrument/devices or any environmental surfaces; such use is counter to label instructions for these toxic chemicals.951, 952, 961–964Category IB, IC (FDA: 21 CFR 801.5, 807.87.e)
  3. Follow manufacturers’ instructions for cleaning and maintaining noncritical medical equipment. Category II
  4. In the absence of a manufacturer’s cleaning instructions, follow certain procedures.
    1. Clean noncritical medical equipment surfaces with a detergent/disinfectant. This may be followed with an application of an EPA-registered hospital disinfectant with or without a tuberculocidal claim (depending on the nature of the surface and the degree of contamination), in accordance with disinfectant label instructions.952Category II
    2. Do not use alcohol to disinfect large environmental surfaces.951 Category II
    3. Use barrier protective coverings as appropriate for noncritical equipment surfaces that are
      • * touched frequently with gloved hands during the delivery of patient care;
      • * likely to become contaminated with blood or body substances; or
      • * difficult to clean (e.g., computer keyboards).936 Category II
  5. Keep housekeeping surfaces (e.g., floors, walls, and tabletops) visibly clean on a regular basis and clean up spills promptly.954 Category II
    1. Use a one-step process and an EPA-registered hospital disinfectant/detergent designed for general housekeeping purposes in patient-care areas when
      • uncertainty exists as to the nature of the soil on these surfaces [e.g., blood or body fluid contamination versus routine dust or dirt]; or
      • * uncertainty exists regarding the presence or absence of multi-drug resistant organisms on such surfaces.952, 983, 986, 987
        Category II
    2. Detergent and water are adequate for cleaning surfaces in nonpatient-care areas (e.g., administrative offices). Category II
    3. Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces (e.g., doorknobs, bed rails, light switches, and surfaces in and around toilets in patients’ rooms) on a more frequent schedule than minimal touch housekeeping surfaces. Category II
    4. Clean walls, blinds, and window curtains in patient-care areas when they are visibly dusty or soiled.2, 971, 972, 982Category II
  6. Do not perform disinfectant fogging in patient-care areas.2, 976 Category IB
Environmental Fogging [December 2009]

Update or clarification r6 Clarification Statement: CDC and HICPAC have recommendations in both 2003 Guidelines for Environmental Infection Control in Health-Care Facilities and the 2008 Guideline for Disinfection and Sterilization in Healthcare Facilities that state that the CDC does not support disinfectant fogging. Specifically, the 2003 and 2008 Guidelines state:

These recommendations refer to the spraying or fogging of chemicals (e.g., formaldehyde, phenol-based agents, or quaternary ammonium compounds) as a way to decontaminate environmental surfaces or disinfect the air in patient rooms. The recommendation against fogging was based on studies in the 1970’s that reported a lack of microbicidal efficacy (e.g., use of quaternary ammonium compounds in mist applications) but also adverse effects on healthcare workers and others in facilities where these methods were utilized. Furthermore, some of these chemicals are not EPA-registered for use in fogging-type applications.

These recommendations do not apply to newer technologies involving fogging for room decontamination (e.g., ozone mists, vaporized hydrogen peroxide) that have become available since the 2003 and 2008 recommendations were made. These newer technologies were assessed by CDC and HICPAC in the 2011 Guideline for the Prevention and Control of Norovirus Gastroenteritis Outbreaks in Healthcare Settings, which makes the recommendation:

“More research is required to clarify the effectiveness and reliability of fogging, UV irradiation, and ozone mists to reduce norovirus environmental contamination. (No recommendation/unresolved issue)”

The 2003 and 2008 recommendations still apply; however, CDC does not yet make a recommendation regarding these newer technologies. This issue will be revisited as additional evidence becomes available.

  1. Avoid large-surface cleaning methods that produce mists or aerosols or disperse dust in patient-care areas.9, 20, 109, 272Category IB
  2. Follow proper procedures for effective use of mops, cloths, and solutions. Category II
    1. Prepare cleaning solutions daily or as needed, and replace with fresh solution frequently according to facility policies and procedures.986, 987 Category II
    2. Change the mop head at the beginning of the day and also as required by facility policy, or after cleaning up large spills of blood or other body substances. Category II
    3. Clean mops and cloths after use and allow to dry before reuse; or use single-use, disposable mop heads and cloths.971, 988–990 Category II
  3. After the last surgical procedure of the day or night, wet vacuum or mop operating room floors with a single-use mop and an EPA-registered hospital disinfectant.7 Category IB
  4. Do not use mats with tacky surfaces at the entrance to operating rooms or infection-control suites.7 Category IB
  5. Use appropriate dusting methods for patient-care areas designated for immunocompromised patients (e.g., HSCT patients):9, 94, 986 Category IB
    1. Wet-dust horizontal surfaces daily by moistening a cloth with a small amount of an EPA-registered hospital detergent/disinfectant.9, 94, 986 Category IB
    2. Avoid dusting methods that disperse dust (e.g., feather-dusting).94 Category IB
  6. Keep vacuums in good repair, and equip vacuums with HEPA filters for use in areas with patients at risk.9, 94, 986, 994Category IB
  7. Close the doors of immunocompromised patients’ rooms when vacuuming, waxing, or buffing corridor floors to minimize exposure to airborne dust.9, 94, 994 Category IB
  8. When performing low- or intermediate-level disinfection of environmental surfaces in nurseries and neonatal units, avoid unnecessary exposure of neonates to disinfectant residues on environmental surfaces by using EPA-registered disinfectants in accordance with manufacturers’ instructions and safety advisories.974, 995–997 Category IB, IC (EPA: 7 USC § 136 et seq.)
    1. Do not use phenolics or any other chemical germicide to disinfect bassinets or incubators during an infant’s stay.952, 995–997 Category IB
    2. Rinse disinfectant-treated surfaces, especially those treated with phenolics, with water.995–997 Category IB
  9. When using phenolic disinfectants in neonatal units, prepare solutions to correct concentrations in accordance with manufacturers’ instructions, or use premixed formulations.974, 995–997 Category IB, IC (EPA: 7 USC § 136 et seq.)
E.II. Cleaning Spills of Blood and Body Substances
  1. Promptly clean and decontaminate spills of blood or other potentially infectious materials967, 998–1004 Category IB, IC(OSHA: 29 CFR 1910.1030 §d.4.ii.A)
  2. Follow proper procedures for site decontamination of spills of blood or blood-containing body fluids.967, 998–004Category IC (OSHA: 29 CFR 1910.1030 § d.4.ii.A)
    1. Use protective gloves and other PPE appropriate for this task.967 Category IC (OSHA: 29 CFR 1910.1030 § d.3.i, ii)
    2. If the spill contains large amounts of blood or body fluids, clean the visible matter with disposable absorbent material, and discard the contaminated materials in appropriate, labeled containment.967, 1002, 1003, 1010, 1012Category IC (OSHA: 29 CFR 1910.1030 § d.4.iii.B)
    3. Swab the area with a cloth or paper towels moderately wetted with disinfectant, and allow the surface to dry.967, 1010 Category IC (OSHA: 29 CFR 1910.1030 § d.4.ii.A)
  3. Use EPA-registered hospital disinfectants labeled tuberculocidal or registered germicides on the EPA Lists D and E (products with specific label claims for HIV or hepatitis B virus [HBV]) in accordance with label instructions to decontaminate spills of blood and other body fluids.967, 1007, 1010 Category IC (OSHA 29 CFR 1910.1030 § d.4.ii.A memorandum 2/28/97; compliance document CPL 2-2.44D [11/99])
  4. An EPA-registered sodium hypochlorite product is preferred, but if such products are not available, generic versions of sodium hypochlorite solutions (e.g., household chlorine bleach) may be used.
    1. Use a 1:100 dilution (500–615 ppm available chlorine) to decontaminate nonporous surfaces after cleaning a spill of either blood or body fluids in patient-care settings.1010, 1011 Category II
    2. If a spill involves large amounts of blood or body fluids, or if a blood or culture spill occurs in the laboratory, use a 1:10 dilution (5,000–6,150 ppm available chlorine) for the first application of germicide before cleaning.954, 1010Category II
E.III. Carpeting and Cloth Furnishings
  1. Vacuum carpeting in public areas of health-care facilities and in general patient-care areas regularly with well-maintained equipment designed to minimize dust dispersion.986 Category II
  2. Periodically perform a thorough, deep cleaning of carpeting as determined by facility policy by using a method that minimizes the production of aerosols and leaves little or no residue.111 Category II
  3. Avoid use of carpeting in high-traffic zones in patient-care areas or where spills are likely (e.g., burn therapy units, operating rooms, laboratories, and intensive care units).111, 1023, 1028 Category IB
  4. Follow proper procedures for managing spills on carpeting.
    1. Spot-clean blood or body substance spills promptly.967, 1010, 1011, 1032 Category IC (OSHA: 29 CFR 1910.1030 § d.4.ii.A, interpretation)
    2. If a spill occurs on carpet tiles, replace any tiles contaminated by blood and body fluids or body substances.1032Category IC (OSHA 29 CFR 1910.1030 § d.4.ii interpretation)
  5. Thoroughly dry wet carpeting to prevent the growth of fungi; replace carpeting that remains wet after 72 hours.9, 1026Category IB
  6. No recommendation is offered regarding the routine use of fungicidal or bactericidal treatments for carpeting in public areas of a health-care facility or in general patient-care areas. Unresolved issue
  7. Do not use carpeting in hallways and patient rooms in areas housing immunosuppressed patients (e.g., PE areas).9, 111Category IB
  8. Avoid the use of upholstered furniture and furnishings in high-risk patient-care areas and in areas with increased potential for body substance contamination (e.g., pediatrics units).9 Category II
  9. No recommendation is offered regarding whether upholstered furniture and furnishings should be avoided in general patient-care areas. Unresolved issue
  10. Maintain upholstered furniture in good repair. Category II
    1. Maintain the surface integrity of the upholstery by repairing tears and holes. Category II
    2. If upholstered furniture in a patient’s room requires cleaning to remove visible soil or body substance contamination, move that item to a maintenance area where it can be adequately cleaned with a process appropriate for the type of upholstery and the nature of the soil. Category II
E.IV. Flowers and Plants in Patient-Care Areas
  1. Flowers and potted plants need not be restricted from areas for immunocompetent patients.515, 702, 1040, 1042 Category II
  2. Designate care and maintenance of flowers and potted plants to staff not directly involved with patient care.702Category II
  3. If plant or flower care by patient-care staff is unavoidable, instruct the staff to wear gloves when handling the plants and flowers and perform hand hygiene after glove removal.702 Category II
  4. Do not allow fresh or dried flowers, or potted plants in patient-care areas for immunosuppressed patients.9, 109, 515, 1046Category II
E.V. Pest Control
  1. Develop pest-control strategies, with emphasis on kitchens, cafeterias, laundries, central sterile supply areas, operating rooms, loading docks, construction activities, and other areas prone to infestations.1050, 1072, 1075 Category II
  2. Install screens on all windows that open to the outside; keep screens in good repair.1072 Category IB
  3. Contract for routine pest control service by a credentialed pest-control specialist who will tailor the application to the needs of a health-care facility.1075 Category II
  4. Place laboratory specimens (e.g., fixed sputum smears) in covered containers for overnight storage.1065, 1066 Category II
E.VI. Special Pathogens
Edit [February 2017]
Update or clarification r7 Edit: An * indicates recommendations that were renumbered for clarity. The renumbering does not constitute change to the intent of the recommendations.
  1. Use appropriate hand hygiene, PPE (e.g., gloves), and isolation precautions during cleaning and disinfecting procedures.5, 952, 1130, 1364 Category IB
  2. Use standard cleaning and disinfection protocols to control environmental contamination with antibiotic-resistant gram-positive cocci (e.g., methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, vancomycin intermediate-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus [VRE] ).5, 1116–1118 Category IB
    1. Pay close attention to cleaning and disinfection of high-touch surfaces in patient-care areas (e.g., bed rails, carts, bedside commodes, bedrails, doorknobs, or faucet handles).5, 1116–1118 Category IB
    2. Ensure compliance by housekeeping staff with cleaning and disinfection procedures.5, 1116–1118 Category IB
    3. Use EPA-registered hospital disinfectants appropriate for the surface to be disinfected (e.g., either low- or intermediate-level disinfection) as specified by the manufacturers’ instructions.974, 1106–1110, 1118 Category IB, IC(EPA: 7 USC § 136 et seq.)
    4. When contact precautions are indicated for patient care, use disposable patient-care items (e.g., blood pressure cuffs) whenever possible to minimize cross-contamination with multiple-resistant microorganisms.1102 Category IB
    5. Follow these same surface cleaning and disinfecting measures for managing the environment of VRSA patients.1110, 1116–1118 Category II
  3. Environmental-surface culturing can be used to verify the efficacy of hospital policies and procedures before and after cleaning and disinfecting rooms that house patients with VRE.5, 1084, 1087, 1088, 1092, 1096 Category II
    1. Obtain prior approval from infection-control staff and the clinical laboratory before performing environmental surface culturing. Category II
    2. Infection-control staff, with clinical laboratory consultation, must supervise all environmental culturing. Category II
  4. Thoroughly clean and disinfect environmental and medical equipment surfaces on a regular basis using EPA-registered disinfectants in accordance with manufacturers’ instructions.952, 974, 1130, 1143 Category IB, IC (EPA: 7 USC § 136 et seq.)
  5. Advise families, visitors, and patients about the importance of hand hygiene to minimize the spread of body substance contamination (e.g., respiratory secretions or fecal matter) to surfaces.952 Category II
  6. Do not use high-level disinfectants (i.e., liquid chemical sterilants) on environmental surfaces; such use is inconsistent with label instructions and because of the toxicity of the chemicals.2, 951, 952, 964 Category IC (FDA: 21 CFR 801.5, 807.87.e)
C. difficile Update [May 2019]
C. difficile Update [May 2019]
Update or clarification.

Update: Recommendations E.VI.G. and E.VI.H. were updated to reflect changes in Federal regulatory approvals: LIST K: EPA’s Registered Antimicrobial Products Effective against Clostridium difficile Sporesexternal icon

  1. Update: Use an EPA-registered product effective against Clostridium difficile spores for disinfection of environmental surfaces in rooms where C. difficile patients are treated. (New Categorization Scheme: Recommendation) See LIST K: EPA’s Registered Antimicrobial Products Effective against Clostridium difficile Sporesexternal icon
  2. Update: This recommendation has been superseded by recommendation E.VI.G. See LIST K: EPA’s Registered Antimicrobial Products Effective against Clostridium difficile Sporesexternal icon
  3. Apply standard cleaning and disinfection procedures to control environmental contamination with respiratory and enteric viruses in pediatric-care units and care areas for immunocompromised patients.986, 1158 Category IC (EPA: 7 USC § 136 et seq.)
  4. Clean surfaces that have been contaminated with body substances; perform low- to intermediate-level disinfection on cleaned surfaces with an EPA-registered disinfectant in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.967, 974, 1158Category IC (OSHA: 29 CFR 1910.1030 § d.4.ii.A; EPA: 7 USC § 136 et seq.)
  5. Use disposable barrier coverings as appropriate to minimize surface contamination. Category II
  6. Develop and maintain cleaning and disinfection procedures to control environmental contamination with agents of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), for which no EPA-registered product exists. Category II
    1. In the absence of contamination with central nervous system tissue, extraordinary measures (e.g., use of 2N sodium hydroxide [NaOH] or applying full-strength sodium hypochlorite) are not needed for routine cleaning or terminal disinfection of a room housing a confirmed or suspected CJD patient.951, 1199 Category II
    2. After removing gross tissue from the surface, use either 1N NaOH or a sodium hypochlorite solution containing approximately 10,000–20,000 ppm available chlorine (dilutions of 1:5 to 1:3 v/v, respectively, of U.S. household chlorine bleach; contact the manufacturers of commercially available sodium hypochlorite products for advice) to decontaminate operating room or autopsy surfaces with central nervous system or cerebral spinal fluid contamination from a diagnosed or suspected CJD patient.951, 1170, 1188, 1191, 1197–1199, 1201
      • * The contact time for the chemical used during this process should be 30 min–1 hour.1191, 1197, 1201
      • * Blot up the chemical with absorbent material and rinse the treated surface thoroughly with water.
      • * Discard the used, absorbent material into appropriate waste containment. Category II
    3. Use disposable, impervious covers to minimize body substance contamination to autopsy tables and surfaces.1197, 1201 Category IB
  7. Use standard procedures for containment, cleaning, and decontamination of blood spills on surfaces as previously described (Environmental Services: II).967 Category IC (OSHA: 29 CFR 1910.1030 §d.4.ii.A)
    1. Wear PPE appropriate for a surface decontamination and cleaning task.967, 1199 Category IC (OSHA 29 CFR 1910.1030 §d.3.i, ii)
    2. Discard used PPE by using routine disposal procedures or decontaminate reusable PPE as appropriate.967, 1199Category IC (OSHA 29 CFR 1910.1030 §d.3.viii)
F. Environmental Sampling
F.I. General Information
Edit [February 2017]
Update or clarification r7 Edit: An * indicates recommendations that were renumbered for clarity. The renumbering does not constitute change to the intent of the recommendations.
  1. Do not conduct random, undirected microbiologic sampling of air, water, and environmental surfaces in health-care facilities.2, 1214 Category IB
  2. When indicated, conduct microbiologic sampling as part of an epidemiologic investigation or during assessment of hazardous environmental conditions to detect contamination and verify abatement of a hazard.2, 1214 Category IB
  3. Limit microbiologic sampling for quality assurance purposes to
    • * biological monitoring of sterilization processes;
    • * monthly cultures of water and dialysate in hemodialysis units; and
    • * short-term evaluation of the impact of infection-control measures or changes in infection-control protocols.2, 1214Category IB
F.II. Air, Water, and Environmental-Surface Sampling
  1. When conducting any form of environmental sampling, identify existing comparative standards and fully document departures from standard methods.945, 1214, 1223, 1224, 1238 Category II
  2. Select a high-volume air sampling device if anticipated levels of microbial airborne contamination are expected to be low.290, 1218, 1223, 1224 Category II
  3. Do not use settle plates to quantify the concentration of airborne fungal spores.290 Category II
  4. When sampling water, choose growth media and incubation conditions that will facilitate the recovery of waterborne organisms.945 Category II
  5. When using a sample/rinse method for sampling an environmental surface, develop and document a procedure for manipulating the swab, gauze, or sponge in a reproducible manner so that results are comparable.1238 Category II
  6. When environmental samples and patient specimens are available for comparison, perform the laboratory analysis on the recovered microorganisms down to the species level at a minimum and beyond the species level if possible.1214Category II
G. Laundry and Bedding
G.I. Employer Responsibilities
  1. Employers must launder workers’ personal protective garments or uniforms that are contaminated with blood or other potentially infectious materials.967 Category IC (OSHA: 29 CFR 1910.1030 § d.3.iv)
G.II. Laundry Facilities and Equipment
  1. Maintain the receiving area for contaminated textiles at negative pressure compared with the clean areas of the laundry in accordance with AIA construction standards in effect during the time of facility construction.120, 1260–1262Category IC (AIA: 7.23.B1, B2)
  2. Ensure that laundry areas have handwashing facilities and products and appropriate PPE available for workers.120, 967Category IC (AIA: 7.23.D4; OSHA: 29 CFR 1910.1030 § d.2.iii)
  3. Use and maintain laundry equipment according to manufacturers’ instructions.1250, 1263 Category II
  4. Do not leave damp textiles or fabrics in machines overnight.1250 Category II
  5. Disinfection of washing and drying machines in residential care is not needed as long as gross soil is removed before washing and proper washing and drying procedures are used. Category II
G.III. Routine Handling of Contaminated Laundry
  1. Handle contaminated textiles and fabrics with minimum agitation to avoid contamination of air, surfaces, and persons.6, 967, 1258, 1259 Category IC (OSHA: 29 CFR 1910.1030 § d.4.iv)
  2. Bag or otherwise contain contaminated textiles and fabrics at the point of use.967 Category IC (OSHA: 29 CFR 1910.1030 § d.4.iv)
    1. Do not sort or prerinse contaminated textiles or fabrics in patient-care areas.967 Category IC (OSHA: 29 CFR 1910.1030 §d.4.iv)
    2. Use leak-resistant containment for textiles and fabrics contaminated with blood or body substances.967, 1258Category IC (OSHA: 29 CFR 1910.1030 § d.4.iv)
    3. Identify bags or containers for contaminated textiles with labels, color coding, or other alternative means of communication as appropriate.967 Category IC (OSHA: 29 CFR 1910.1030 § d.4.iv)
  3. Covers are not needed on contaminated textile hampers in patient-care areas. Category II
  4. If laundry chutes are used, ensure that they are properly designed, maintained, and used in a manner to minimize dispersion of aerosols from contaminated laundry.1253, 1267–1270 Category IC (AAMI: ANSI/AAMI ST65:2000)
    1. Ensure that laundry bags are closed before tossing the filled bag into the chute. Category II
    2. Do not place loose items in the chute. Category II
  5. Establish a facility policy to determine when textiles or fabrics should be sorted in the laundry facility (i.e., before or after washing).1271, 1272 Category II
G.IV. Laundry Process
  1. If hot-water laundry cycles are used, wash with detergent in water 160°F (71°C) for 25 minutes.2, 120 Category IC(AIA: 7.31.E3)
  2. No recommendation is offered regarding a hot-water temperature setting and cycle duration for items laundered in residence-style health-care facilities. Unresolved issue
  3. Follow fabric-care instructions and special laundering requirements for items used in the facility.1278 Category II
  4. Choose chemicals suitable for low-temperature washing at proper use concentration if low-temperature (<160°F [<71°C]) laundry cycles are used.1247, 1281–1285 Category II
  5. Package, transport, and store clean textiles and fabrics by methods that will ensure their cleanliness and protect them from dust and soil during interfacility loading, transport, and unloading.2 Category II
G.V. Microbiologic Sampling of Textiles
  1. Do not conduct routine microbiological sampling of clean textiles.2, 1286 Category IB
  2. Use microbiological sampling during outbreak investigations if epidemiologic evidence suggests a role for health-care textiles and clothing in disease transmission.1286 Category IB
G.VI. Special Laundry Situations
  1. Use sterilized textiles, surgical drapes, and gowns for situations requiring sterility in patient care.7 Category IB
  2. Use hygienically clean textiles (i.e., laundered, but not sterilized) in neonatal intensive care units.997, 1288 Category IB
  3. Follow manufacturers’ recommendations for cleaning fabric products including those with coated or laminated surfaces. Category II
  4. Do not use dry cleaning for routine laundering in health-care facilities.1289–1291 Category II
  5. Use caution when considering the use of antimicrobial mattresses, textiles, and clothing as replacements for standard bedding and other fabric items; EPA has not approved public health claims asserting protection against human pathogens for treated articles.1306 Category II
  6. No recommendation is offered regarding using disposable fabrics and textiles versus durable goods. Unresolved issue
G.VII. Mattresses and Pillows
  1. Keep mattresses dry; discard them if they become and remain wet or stained, particularly in burn units.1310–1315Category IB
  2. Clean and disinfect mattress covers using EPA-registered disinfectants, if available, that are compatible with the cover materials to prevent the development of tears, cracks, or holes in the cover.1310–1315 Category IB
  3. Maintain the integrity of mattress and pillow covers. Category II
    1. Replace mattress and pillow covers if they become torn or otherwise in need of repair. Category II
    2. Do not stick needles into the mattress through the cover. Category II
  4. Clean and disinfect moisture-resistant mattress covers between patients using an EPA-registered product, if available.1310–1315 Category IB
  5. If using a mattress cover completely made of fabric, change these covers and launder between patients.1310–1315Category IB
  6. Launder pillow covers and washable pillows in the hot-water cycle between patients or when they become contaminated with body substances.1315 Category IB
G.VIII. Air-Fluidized Beds
  1. Follow manufacturers’ instructions for bed maintenance and decontamination. Category II
  2. Change the polyester filter sheet at least weekly or as indicated by the manufacturer.1317, 1318, 1322, 1323 Category II
  3. Clean and disinfect the polyester filter sheet thoroughly, especially between patients, using an EPA-registered product, if available.1317, 1318, 1322, 1323 Category IB
  4. Consult the facility engineer to determine the proper location of air-fluidized beds in negative-pressure rooms.1326Category II
H. Animals in Health-Care Facilities
H.I. General Infection-Control Measures for Animal Encounters
  1. Minimize contact with animal saliva, dander, urine, and feces.1365–1367 Category II
  2. Practice hand hygiene after any animal contact.2, 1364 Category IB
    1. Wash hands with soap and water, especially if hands are visibly soiled.1364 Category IB
    2. Use either soap and water or alcohol-based hand rubs when hands are not visibly soiled.1364 Category IB
H.II. Animal-Assisted Activities, Animal-Assisted Therapy, and Resident Animal Programs
  1. Avoid selection of nonhuman primates and reptiles in animal-assisted activities, animal- assisted therapy, or resident animal programs.1360–1362 Category IB
  2. Enroll animals that are fully vaccinated for zoonotic diseases and that are healthy, clean, well-groomed, and negative for enteric parasites or otherwise have completed recent antihelminthic treatment under the regular care of a veterinarian.1349, 1360 Category II
  3. Enroll animals that are trained with the assistance or under the direction of individuals who are experienced in this field.1360 Category II
  4. Ensure that animals are handled by persons trained in providing activities or therapies safely, and who know the animals’ health status and behavior traits.1349, 1360 Category II
  5. Take prompt action when an incident of biting or scratching by an animal occurs during an animal-assisted activity or therapy.
    1. Remove the animal permanently from these programs.1360 Category II
    2. Report the incident promptly to appropriate authorities (e.g., infection-control staff, animal program coordinator, or local animal control).1360 Category II
    3. Promptly clean and treat scratches, bites, or other accidental breaks in the skin. Category II
  6. Perform an ICRA and work actively with the animal handler prior to conducting an animal-assisted activity or therapy to determine if the session should be held in a public area of the facility or in individual patient rooms. 1349, 1360 Category II
  7. Take precautions to mitigate allergic responses to animals. Category II
    1. Minimize shedding of animal dander by bathing animals <24 hours before a visit.1360 Category II
    2. Groom animals to remove loose hair before a visit, or using a therapy animal cape.1358 Category II
  8. Use routine cleaning protocols for housekeeping surfaces after therapy sessions. Category II
  9. Restrict resident animals, including fish in fish tanks, from access to or placement in patient-care areas, food preparation areas, dining areas, laundry, central sterile supply areas, sterile and clean supply storage areas, medication preparation areas, operating rooms, isolation areas, and PE areas. Category II
  10. Establish a facility policy for regular cleaning of fish tanks, rodent cages, bird cages, and any other animal dwellings and assign this cleaning task to a nonpatient-care staff member; avoid splashing tank water or contaminating environmental surfaces with animal bedding. Category II
H.III. Protective Measures for Immunocompromised Patients
  1. Advise patients to avoid contact with animal feces and body fluids such as saliva, urine, or solid litter box material.8Category II
  2. Promptly clean and treat scratches, bites, or other wounds that break the skin.8 Category II
  3. Advise patients to avoid direct or indirect contact with reptiles.1340 Category IB
  4. Conduct a case-by-case assessment to determine if animal-assisted activities or animal-assisted therapy programs are appropriate for immunocompromised patients.1349 Category II
  5. No recommendation is offered regarding permitting pet visits to terminally ill immunosuppressed patients outside their PE units. Unresolved issue
H.IV. Service Animals
Edit [February 2017]
Update or clarification r7 Edit: An * indicates recommendations that were renumbered for clarity. The renumbering does not constitute change to the intent of the recommendations.
  1. Avoid providing access to nonhuman primates and reptiles as service animals.1340, 1362 Category IB
  2. Allow service animals access to the facility in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, unless the presence of the animal creates a direct threat to other persons or a fundamental alteration in the nature of services.1366, 1376 Category IC (U.S. Department of Justice: 28 CFR § 36.302)
  3. When a decision must be made regarding a service animal’s access to any particular area of the health-care facility, evaluate the service animal, the patient, and the health-care situation on a case-by-case basis to determine whether significant risk of harm exists and whether reasonable modifications in policies and procedures will mitigate this risk.1376 Category IC (Justice: 28 CFR § 36.208 and App.B)
  4. If a patient must be separated from his or her service animal while in the health-care facility
    • * ascertain from the person what arrangements have been made for supervision or care of the animal during this period of separation; and
    • * make appropriate arrangements to address the patient’s needs in the absence of the service animal. Category II
H.V. Animals as Patients in Human Health-Care Facilities
  1. Develop health-care facility policies to address the treatment of animals in human healthcare facilities.
    1. Use the multidisciplinary team approach to policy development, including public media relations in order to disclose and discuss these activities. Category II
    2. Exhaust all veterinary facility, equipment, and instrument options before undertaking the procedure. Category II
    3. Ensure that the care of the animal is supervised by a licensed veterinarian. Category II
  2. When animals are treated in human health-care facilities, avoid treating animals in operating rooms or other patient-care areas where invasive procedures are performed (e.g., cardiac catheterization laboratories, or invasive nuclear medicine areas). Category II
  3. Schedule the animal procedure for the last case of the day for the area, at a time when human patients are not scheduled to be in the vicinity. Category II
  4. Adhere strictly to standard precautions. Category II
  5. Clean and disinfect environmental surfaces thoroughly using an EPA-registered product in the room after the animal is removed. Category II
  6. Allow sufficient ACH to clean the air and help remove airborne dander, microorganisms, and allergens [Appendix B, Table B.1.]). Category II
  7. Clean and disinfect using EPA-registered products or sterilize equipment that has been in contact with animals, or use disposable equipment. Category II
  8. If reusable medical or surgical instruments are used in an animal procedure, restrict future use of these instruments to animals only. Category II 143
H.VI. Research Animals in Health-Care Facilities
  1. Use animals obtained from quality stock, or quarantine incoming animals to detect zoonotic diseases. Category II
  2. Treat sick animals or remove them from the facility. Category II
  3. Provide prophylactic vaccinations, as available, to animal handlers and contacts at high risk. Category II
  4. Ensure proper ventilation through appropriate facility design and location.1395 Category IC (U.S. Department of Agriculture [USDA]: 7 USC 2131)
    1. Keep animal rooms at negative pressure relative to corridors.1395 Category IC (USDA: 7 USC 2131)
    2. Prevent air in animal rooms from recirculating elsewhere in the health-care facility.1395 Category IC (USDA: 7 USC 2131)
  5. Keep doors to animal research rooms closed. Category II
  6. Restrict access to animal facilities to essential personnel. Category II
  7. Establish employee occupational health programs specific to the animal research facility, and coordinate management of postexposure procedures specific for zoonoses with occupational health clinics in the health-care facility.1013, 1378Category IC (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services [DHHS]: BMBL; OSHA: 29 CFR 1910.1030.132-139)
  8. Document standard operating procedures for the unit.1013 Category IC (DHHS: BMBL)
  9. Conduct routine employee training on worker safety issues relevant to the animal research facility (e.g., working safely with animals and animal handling).1013, 1393 Category IC (DHHS: BMBL; OSHA: 29 CFR 1910.1030.132-139)
  10. Use precautions to prevent the development of animal-induced asthma in animal workers.1013 Category IC (DHHS: BMBL)
I. Regulated Medical Waste
I.I. Categories of Regulated Medical Waste
Edit [February 2017]
Update or clarification r7 Edit: An * indicates recommendations that were renumbered for clarity. The renumbering does not constitute change to the intent of the recommendations.
  1. Designate the following as major categories of medical waste that require special handling and disposal precautions:
    • * microbiology laboratory wastes [e.g., cultures and stocks of microorganisms];
    • * bulk blood, blood products, blood, and bloody body fluid specimens;
    • * pathology and anatomy waste; and
    • * sharps [e.g., needles and scalpels].2 Category II
  2. Consult federal, state, and local regulations to determine if other waste items are considered regulated medical wastes.967, 1407, 1408 Category IC (States; Authorities having jurisdiction [AHJ]; OSHA: 29 CFR 1910.1030 §g.2.1; U.S. Department of Transportation [DOT]: 49 CFR 171-180; U.S. Postal Service: CO23.8)
I.II. Disposal Plan for Regulated Medical Wastes
  1. Develop a plan for the collection, handling, predisposal treatment, and terminal disposal of regulated medical wastes.967, 1409 Category IC (States; AHJ; OSHA: 29 CFR 1910.1030 §g.2.i;)
  2. Designate a person or persons to be responsible for establishing, monitoring, reviewing, and administering the plan. Category II
I.III. Handling, Transporting, and Storing Regulated Medical Wastes
  1. Inform personnel involved in the handling and disposal of potentially infective waste of the possible health and safety hazards; ensure that they are trained in appropriate handling and disposal methods.967 Category IC (OSHA: 29 CFR 1910.1030 § g.2.i)
  2. Manage the handling and disposal of regulated medical wastes generated in isolation areas by using the same methods as for regulated medical wastes from other patient-care areas.2 Category II
  3. Use proper sharps disposal strategies.967 Category IC (OSHA: 29 CFR 1910.1030 § d.4.iii.A)
    1. Use a sharps container capable of maintaining its impermeability after waste treatment to avoid subsequent physical injuries during final disposal.967 Category IC (OSHA: 29 CFR 1910.1030 § d.4.iii.A)
    2. Place disposable syringes with needles, including sterile sharps that are being discarded, scalpel blades, and other sharp items into puncture-resistant containers located as close as practical to the point of use.967 Category IC(OSHA: 29 CFR 1910.1030 § d.4.iii.A)
    3. Do not bend, recap, or break used syringe needles before discarding them into a container.6, 967, 1415 Category IC(OSHA: 29 CFR 1910.1030 § d.2.vii and § d.2.vii.A)
  4. Store regulated medical wastes awaiting treatment in a properly ventilated area that is inaccessible to vertebrate pests; use waste containers that prevent the development of noxious odors. Category IC (States; AHJ)
  5. If treatment options are not available at the site where the medical waste is generated, transport regulated medical wastes in closed, impervious containers to the on-site treatment location or to another facility for treatment as appropriate. Category IC (States; AHJ)
I.IV. Treatment and Disposal of Regulated Medical Wastes
  1. Treat regulated medical wastes by using a method (e.g., steam sterilization, incineration, interment, or an alternative treatment technology) approved by the appropriate authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) (e.g., states, Indian Health Service [IHS], Veterans Affairs [VA]) before disposal in a sanitary landfill. Category IC (States, AHJ)
  2. Follow precautions for treating microbiological wastes (e.g., amplified cultures and stocks of microorganisms).1013Category IC (DHHS: BMBL)
    1. Biosafety level 4 laboratories must inactivate microbiological wastes in the laboratory by using an approved inactivation method (e.g., autoclaving) before transport to and disposal in a sanitary landfill.1013 Category IC(DHHS: BMBL)
    2. Biosafety level 3 laboratories must inactivate microbiological wastes in the laboratory by using an approved inactivation method (e.g., autoclaving) or incinerate them at the facility before transport to and disposal in a sanitary landfill.1013 Category IC (DHHS: BMBL)
  3. Biosafety levels 1 and 2 laboratories should develop strategies to inactivate amplified microbial cultures and stocks onsite by using an approved inactivation method (e.g., autoclaving) instead of packaging and shipping untreated wastes to an offsite facility for treatment and disposal.1013, 1419–1421 Category II
  4. Laboratories that isolate select agents from clinical specimens must comply with federal regulations for the receipt, transfer, management, and appropriate disposal of these agents.1412 Category IC (DHHS: 42 CFR 73 § 73.6)
  5. Sanitary sewers may be used for the safe disposal of blood, suctioned fluids, ground tissues, excretions, and secretions, provided that local sewage discharge requirements are met and that the state has declared this to be an acceptable method of disposal.1414 Category II
I.V. Special Precautions for Wastes Generated During Care of Patients with Rare Diseases
  1. When discarding items contaminated with blood and body fluids from VHF patients, contain these regulated medical wastes with minimal agitation during handling.6, 203 Category II
  2. Manage properly contained wastes from areas providing care to VHF patients in accordance with recommendations for other isolation areas (Regulated Medical Waste: III B).2, 6, 203 Category II
  3. Decontaminate bulk blood and body fluids from VHF patients using approved inactivation methods (e.g., autoclaving or chemical treatment) before disposal.6, 203 Category IC, II (States; AHJ)
  4. When discarding regulated medical waste generated during the routine (i.e., non-surgical) care of CJD patients, contain these wastes and decontaminate them using approved inactivation methods (e.g., autoclaving or incineration) appropriate for the medical waste category (e.g., blood, sharps, pathological waste).2, 6, 948, 1199 Category IC, II (States; AHJ)
  5. Incinerate medical wastes (e.g., central nervous system tissues or contaminated disposable materials) from brain autopsy or biopsy procedures of diagnosed or suspected CJD patients.1197, 1201 Category IB