Public Release: 

Updated infection-control guidelines focus on patients, personnel in the cardiovascular cath lab

Recognizing increasing complexity of interventional cardiology procedures, SCAI revisits a quality concern

Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions

The Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions has released an updated set of guidelines for infection control in cardiovascular catheterization laboratories. Release of these revised guidelines was prompted in part by the recognition that interventional cardiology procedures have become increasingly complex in recent years. The guidelines, published in the January 2006 issue of Catheterization and Cardiovascular Interventions: Journal of the Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions, update a document published in 1992.

"With all of the implantable devices and advanced procedures, it is becoming difficult to distinguish the cardiovascular catheterization laboratory from the surgical suite," said Dr. Charles E. Chambers, lead author of the new guidelines and a professor of medicine and radiology at Penn State College of Medicine in Hershey, PA. "Infections in the cardiovascular cath lab are very uncommon, and it is essential that this continue to be the case."

SCAI members themselves identified the need for updated infection-control guidelines. In a member survey, nearly 80 percent of respondents called for SCAI to revise the prior infection-control recommendations.

Dr. Chambers and a panel of experts from interventional cardiology and infection control did just that, culling the most pertinent information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other resources, and tailoring it specifically for the cardiovascular catheterization laboratory.

The resulting guidelines provide detailed information on, among other things, the selection of antibacterial soaps, the circumstances under which patients should receive an antibiotic, protective masks and other garb to be worn by cath lab staff, and the acceptable level of air circulation in the cath lab.

"The guidelines are more comprehensive than the earlier version. They outline the preparation and protection of patients, the protection of interventional cardiologists and staff, and laboratory maintenance," Dr. Chambers said. "When infections do occur after an interventional procedure, they can be devastating. These updated guidelines demonstrate SCAI's continued commitment to the safety of our patients and staff in the cardiac catheterization laboratory."

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Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., the Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions is a 3,400-member professional organization representing invasive and interventional cardiologists. SCAI's mission is to promote excellence in invasive and interventional cardiovascular medicine through physician education and representation, and advancement of quality standards to enhance patient care. SCAI was organized in 1976 under the guidance of Drs. F. Mason Sones and Melvin P. Judkins. The first SCAI Annual Scientific Sessions were held in Chicago in 1978.

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