Infection Control in Speech-Language Pathology

All SLPs must protect themselves and their patients from infection. The following is a compilation of resources to assist speech-language pathologists in all practice settings.

ASHA Policy Documents

Quality Indicators for Professional Service Programs in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology
See section III. D. Physical Facilities, Equipment, and Program Environment, for a mention of infection control within program operations. 

Infection Control Basics

Standard Precautions

Standard Precautions used to be called "Universal Precautions." The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend certain practices for the prevention of blood-borne pathogens. Training on these guidelines is mandated annually for all individuals who are recognized as at-risk to occupational exposure for blood-borne pathogens.

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

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 precautions that are taken in health care settings to prevent the spread of an infectious agent from an infected or colonized patient to susceptible persons.

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 works are susceptible.

CDC Needle Safety information

How to Prevent Needlestick Injuries: Answers to Some Important Questions
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

Disease Prevention in Health Care

Resources for School-based SLPs

Practice Guidelines

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

Articles of Interest

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), 66–7.

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.

Important Links

See Also: HIV/AIDS: Information for Audiologists and Speech-Language Pathologists

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