National Safety and Quality Health Service Standards (2nd edition, 2021) Published

Megan Reilly

The 2021 Preventing and Controlling Infections Standard supersedes the 2017 Preventing and Controlling Healthcare-Associated Infection Standard.

The new standard provides further support to health service organisations to prevent, control and respond to infections that cause outbreaks, epidemics or pandemics, including novel and emerging infections.

The changes made to the standard clarify existing requirements and reflect the lessons from the response to COVID-19.

A factsheet shows the differences between the new standard and the previous standard.

Whilst retaining a focus on patient safety, the 2021 Preventing and Controlling Infections Standard:

  • Recognises the complementary relationship between healthcare worker safety and patient safety
  • Promotes use of the hierarchy of controls to design infection prevention and control systems and programs
  • Promotes a precautionary approach to using transmission-based precautions, relevant to the clinical procedure and based on a risk assessment and consideration of current evidence. For example, in relation to COVID-19, a precautionary approach would involve adopting airborne precautions when there is uncertainty about the circumstances that may arise in the care of a patient with confirmed or suspected COVID-19
  • Requires consideration of ventilation and air management system issues, including emerging evidence, as part of responding to the risk of airborne transmission of COVID-19
  • Requires management of members of the workforce with transmissible infections
  • Includes the Australian Guidelines for the Control and Prevention of Infection in Healthcareto assist in meeting the guidelines and requirements of the standard.

Existing implementation support resources are being revised to align with the 2021 Preventing and Controlling Infections Standard, and new resources are being developed.