News and Observer (Raleigh NC) (01.24.12) - Friday, January
This month, a new law requiring infection-control training for
staff at North Carolina assisted living centers takes effect.
Duke University's Dr. Thomas Bender, formerly a CDC
investigator, said the training compares favorably to efforts
in other states to deal with a growing number of hepatitis
outbreaks caused by improper diabetes care. "I certainly look
at this legislation as a model to hold up for other states,"
he said. "These rules are a lot more of a response to a very
significant problem than you see elsewhere."
This year, some 30,000 medical technicians and their
supervisors at assisted living centers will take part in a
training course developed by the state divisions of Health
Service Regulation and Public Health. By the end of next year,
medical techs will need five hours of infection-control
training before they ever touch a patient, then another 10
hours after starting work. In addition to training, the law
mandates monitoring for infections and reporting outbreaks at
Dr. Zack Moore, medical epidemiologist with the Division of
Public Health, said the law brings infection-control protocols
at assisted living centers more in line with those at health
care institutions. "It's a real patchwork as far as what kinds
of regulations and oversights occur in different settings -
hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living," he said. "Adult
care homes didn't have very much in the way of training before
this bill, which is why it was thought to be important."
A 2009 hepatitis B outbreak at the Glen Care Mount Olive
assisted living facility in Wayne County that killed six
residents was found to be due to improper reuse of fingerstick
devices and other instruments used to monitor diabetes. GCMO
initially denied it had any role in the deaths but eventually
paid $16,000 in state fines for the violations. Reusable
fingerstick devices should not even be present in a group
setting where assisted monitoring is occurring, Bender noted.