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Principles of infection control in long-term care facilities

Michael J Richards, MD, FRACP
Rhonda L Stuart, MBBS, FRACP, PhD
Section Editor
Anthony Harris, MD, MPH
Deputy Editor
Elinor L Baron, MD, DTMH


Long-term care facilities (LTCFs) represent a diverse group of healthcare settings that serve individuals of all ages and provide variable degrees of care; LTCFs are increasingly addressing a broader range of acute care needs. LTCFs include nursing homes, skilled-nursing facilities providing postacute care, assisted living facilities, retirement homes, rehabilitation centers, long-term care hospitals, long-term psychiatric facilities, and institutions for individuals with intellectual disabilities. For many residents, these facilities are a home as well as a place of nursing, medical, and/or psychosocial care.

The Association for Practitioners in Infection Control and the Society for Hospital Epidemiology have developed guidelines for infection prevention and control in LTCFs [1].

Staffing and support for infection control in LTCFs lag behind infection control programs in acute care hospitals [2-6]. Challenges to infection control in LTCFs include high patient-staff ratios, high staff turnover, and inadequate implementation of infection control policies [1].

Issues related to infection prevention and control in LTCFs will be reviewed here. Causes of infection in LTCFs facilities are discussed separately. (See "Causes of infection in long-term care facilities".)


Approximately 5 percent of Americans over the age of 65 reside in long-term care facilities (LTCFs) and up to 43 percent will be admitted to an LTCF at some time. In addition, it is estimated that by 2040, 21 percent of the United States population will be greater than 65 years of age [7].


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Literature review current through: Oct 2015. | This topic last updated: Nov 3, 2015.
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