High Level Disinfection: Training Requirements
By: Cara Nissen
Individuals performing and supervising high-level disinfection (HLD) in healthcare organizations must be knowledgeable and competent to protect patients and employees from the risk of exposure to potentially pathogenic microorganisms. Advances in healthcare technology along with the emergence of new diseases have brought an increased focus on the quality and safety of HLD reprocessing of semi-critical devices.
American National Standards Institute (ANSI)/Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation (AAMI) ST58 and Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) Guideline for Disinfection and Sterilization in Healthcare Facilities provide specific recommendations regarding the training of personnel which should guide the development of policies, procedures, and training for HLD. Hospitals accredited by CIHQ are required to follow both ANSI/AAMI standards and CDC guidelines. The Joint Commission (TJC) specifically requires hospitals to follow the CDC guidelines, although ANSI/AAMI standards are also frequently used by infection preventionists at these hospitals. This article will summarize requirements from both ANSI/AAMI and CDC to assist hospitals in creating a robust program inclusive of the latest guidelines available.
Competency Validation Requirements for HLD Processing Personnel
Initial training and competency validation is required prior to an individual performing HLD independently. In addition, staff competency is needed when there is a new device, processing equipment, product, or method. The elements that should be included are:
Training and Activities Recommended for Supervisory Personnel
All the tasks above should be supervised by competent, qualified personnel with a combination of education, training, and experience. Minimum recommended qualifications for supervisors of HLD include:
Common HLD Challenges
Misconceptions regarding HLD staff training requirements can lead to increased risk for patients and staff and citations by accreditation agencies. Some common missteps include:
For more information on any of the topics discussed, please reference the ANSI/AAMI standards and CDC guidelines. Team up with your infection prevention, accreditation, and sterile processing departments to ensure HLD processing and supervisory staff are providing care and services that don’t put patients or staff at risk.
Chemical sterilization and high-level disinfection in health care facilities Developed by AAMI Approved 21 August 2013 and reaffirmed 9 September 2018 by American National Standards Institute Inc.
Guideline for Disinfection and Sterilization in Healthcare Facilities, 2008 Update: May 2019. William A. Rutala, Ph.D., M.P.H., David J. Weber, M.D., M.P.H., and the Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee (HICPAC).