Behavioral Health

Author(s):
Larysa M. Fedoriw, MPH Healthcare Epidemiology and Infection Prevention

Northwestern Medicine
Chicago, IL

Published:
October 3, 2014

Abstract

Infection prevention within the behavioral health setting is a diverse practice. Freestanding acute care hospitals, specialty psychiatric hospitals, substance abuse centers, outpatient practices, group homes, and correctional institutions are a few of the many environments in which an infection preventionist may find behavioral health-related infection prevention challenges. The infection preventionist is confronted with unique opportunities to identify, prevent, and control infection. Patients with mental illness may be at increased risk for infection in the community. The unique practices of the various treatment settings, as well as the behaviors of the clients themselves, can lead to a heightened risk for transmission to other clients and staff. No matter how challenges present themselves, the behavioral health infection preventionist's goal is to develop strategies designed to identify infections and prevent transmission.