January 25, 2024

2 min read

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Key takeaways:

  • Updated guidance for preventing the transmission of respiratory infections in clinical settings is being created.
  • CDC submitted questions for clarification before the document is adopted.

On Tuesday, the CDC asked the Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee to clarify its recommendations for protecting health care personnel, patients and others from respiratory infection transmission.

The committee is tasked with updating CDC guidelines on isolation precautions and infection control in clinical settings, which will be submitted into the Federal Register for public comment once the draft document is completed.


Healio spoke with Tom Talbot, MD, chief hospital epidemiologist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and president of the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA), for more information about the draft recommendations and what the next steps include.

Healio: What do the draft recommendations approved by HICPAC and sent to the CDC say?

Talbot: It is very important to make sure that we all understand the HICPAC guideline development process clearly. The draft isolation guidelines that were presented at the last HICPAC meeting are moving through the review and comment process. This is essential and a core part of HICPAC guideline development that allows for added perspectives and expertise before a final guideline is reached.

The step announced [Tuesday] is part of that process. Specifically, no new recommendations were added to the draft, but instead other groups within CDC have reviewed and provided comments and recommendations regarding the draft document. The requested items for the working group to address are important clarifications that will further improve the document once it reaches its final version (at which time these will become the formal recommendations and guidelines from the CDC).

What is a little different is the more public visibility of this step, but given the heightened awareness of this specific guideline, it is important that the CDC maintains transparency about the review process.

Healio: What are the major differences between these recommendations and what’s already being done?

Talbot: Again, these are not new recommendations around isolation practices but requests for added clarifications to some of the draft guidelines that are now in the review process.

Healio: What questions does the CDC want answered before it submits the guideline to the Federal Register?

Talbot: The other CDC reviewers (as noted in a CDC blog post) were supportive of the comprehensive and thoughtful work done to date. The items requested ask for more clarification to specific areas in the document that will only help in the eventual implementation of these important guidelines once they are finalized.

Healio: Does SHEA have questions or concerns about the draft recommendations?

SHEA is very supportive of HICPAC’s comprehensive, evidence-based process for guideline development.

The myriad expertise among the working group, voting members and liaison members of HICPAC, which includes experts who are not only practicing clinicians but also noted specialists in the creation and implementation of infection prevention interventions in health care settings and specialty experts on a variety of important subject areas, is a key aspect of the HICPAC process.

This helps provide a thorough, pragmatic and evidence-based guideline to improve the safety of patients and healthcare personnel.

Healio: What happens next?

Talbot: Once the working group addresses the requested clarifications, any changes to the draft will be presented at the next HICPAC meeting. Following that, the document should head to the Federal Register for another important round of review and feedback before the guidelines become final and official.



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