Is an infection control plan necessary in a physical therapy clinic?
he short answer and succinct answer to that question is yes. Infection control is a federal mandate that is overseen by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) which is the federal regulatory agency responsible for overseeing safety in the workplace. Infection control falls under the safety umbrella which is dictated by OSHA, who has very specific guidelines as to how to minimize the potential spread of disease in the workplace. Physical therapists, PT assistants, as well as students are obligated both legally and ethically to uphold these standards. If the previous reasons that I stated as to why infection control is important enough to you as a physical therapist, i.e., you come in contact with bodily fluids, you provide services to multiple patients that you have multiple contacts with a bunch of reusable objects, as well as this whole concept of opportunistic infections that can potentially cause serious life-threatening diseases in individuals with varying degrees of immunocompromise, if that is not enough to convince you that this is important, basically the fact that this is a federal mandate should. Infection control is the law. I am going to give you a very quick story of the hearing instrument dispenser. This was someone who has their own private practice that is providing hearing healthcare services to customers with hearing loss, who are being fit with hearing aids. To make a very long story short, this individual, who happened to hear one of my infection control presentations years prior, called me and said you will never believe what happened to me yesterday. I asked what happened to him yesterday. OSHA came unannounced to his private practice and the first question that OSHA asked was, “Can I please see your written infection control plan?” When he could not produce the written infection control plan, he was immediately fined $5000 and then his practice was essentially opened to an audit by OSHA. As a result of that audit, he basically was told he had two weeks to fix this, fix that, and then you have two weeks to basically produce a written infection control plan, and if you do that, we will reduce your fine from $5000 to $500. The purpose of that story is not to freak you guys out thinking that OSHA is going to come knocking on your door. The purpose of relaying that story is that a written infection control plan is a requirement.