American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

Infection Control in Audiology

Audiologists may handle hearing aids, earmolds, headphones, earphones, probe tubes, specula, curettes, and other instruments that come in direct or indirect contact with their patients. As a result, it is important that they protect themselves and their patients from infection.

The following is a compilation of resources that will help audiologists in all practice settings to establish and maintain an infection control program.

ASHA Policy Documents

Quality Indicators for Professional Service Programs in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology
See pages I-8 and I-9 for information about infection control within program operations.

Infection Control Basics

Standard Precautions

Standard precautions were previously known as "universal precautions." The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend certain practices to prevent transmission of blood-borne pathogens. Annual training on these guidelines is mandated for all individuals who are recognized as being at-risk for occupational exposure to blood-borne pathogens.

Standard precautions include using hand hygiene and isolation precautions; wearing personal protective equipment; and following appropriate procedures for needle and sharps safety and disposal, medical waste disposal, and sterilization of reusable equipment.

CDC Guideline for isolation precautions: preventing transmission of infectious agents in healthcare settings 2007, standard precautions

Hand Hygiene

Hand hygiene is the most effective way to prevent infection and is often considered the first line of defense against germs. Hand hygiene is important for the safety of health care workers and the patients they treat.

Isolation Precautions

Isolation precautions are taken in health care settings to prevent the spread of an infectious agent from an infected or colonized patient to susceptible persons. The following guidelines for isolation precautions are intended to prevent transmission of infectious agents in healthcare settings:

Personal Protective Equipment

Personal protective equipment includes gloves, face masks, gowns, protective glasses, and other equipment used to provide a barrier of safety between the health care worker and the patient.

Needle Safety and Sharps Procedures/Disposal

Unfortunately, needlestick injuries occur in health care. Most needlestick injuries involve nurses, laboratory technicians, physicians, and housekeeping staff; however, all health care workers are susceptible.

CDC Needle Safety information

Disease Prevention in Health Care

Resources for School-Based Audiologists and Speech-Language Pathologists

Practice Guidelines

Methods for Sterilizing and Disinfecting Patient-Care Items and Environmental Surfaces

Articles

Alvarado, C. J., & Reichelderfer, M. (2002). APIC guideline for infection prevention and control in flexible endoscopy [PDF]. Association for Professionals in Infection Control. American Journal of Infection Control, 30 (1), 66-67.

Almani, A. M. (1999). Current trends and future needs for practices in audiologic infection control. Journal of the American Academy of Audiology , 10 (3), 151-159.

Bankaitis, A. U. (2002). What's growing on your patients' hearing aids? A study gives you an idea [PDF]. The Hearing Journal , 55 (6), 48-54.

Center for Disease Control. (2007). Community-Associated MRSA Information for the Public. Retrieved November 14, 2007 from http://www.cdc.gov/.

Cohen, M. R., & McCollough, T.D. (1996). Infection control protocols for audiologists. American Journal of Audiology, 5 (1), 20-22.

Committee on Infectious Diseases and Committee on Practice and Ambulatory Medicine. (2000). Infection control in physicians' offices. Pediatrics, 105 (6), 1361-1369.

Grube, M. M., & Nunley, R. L. (1995). Current infection control practices in speech-language pathology. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 4 (2), 14-23.

Kemp, R., & Bankaitis, A. (2000) Infection Control for Audiologists. Audiology Online . Retrieved November 14, 2007 from http://www.audiologyonline.com.

Kemp, R. J., & Bankaitis, A. E. (2000). Infection Control for Audiologists. In: H. Hosford-Dunn, R. Roeser, & M. Valente (Ed) Audiology Diagnosis, Treatment, and Practice Management , Vol. III (pp. 257-279). New York: Thieme Publishing Group.

Mayo Clinic (2007) Staph Infections. Retrieved November 14, 2007 from http://www.mayoclinic.com/.

U.S. National Library of Medicine (2007) Staphylococcal Infections. Retrieved November 14, 007 from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/.

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