HHS updates ransomware guidance for health care organizations

The Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) this week issued updated ransomware and cyberthreat guidance for health care organizations. Ransomware attacks, a type of cyberattack in which the actors demand the payment of ransom to regain access to a victim’s data, were reported Friday by companies and organizations in more than 150 countries, including hospitals and other clinical services in England’s National Health Service (NHS). For more on cybersecurity resources, including previous guidance from HHS and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, visit the AHA's resource page.

Dignity Health releases human trafficking response resource for hospital security

San Francisco-based Dignity Health published information on its Human Trafficking Response Program to help other hospitals and health systems implement similar programs. Dignity Health states that the program should involve members from each department, including security.

“Trafficked persons are often overlooked even though most survivors report that they have visited a health care setting at least once while being trafficked,” says Holly Gibbs, director of the Dignity Health program and a survivor of human trafficking. “Dignity Health has developed a victim-centered, trauma-informed program based on actual cases, because we believe that health care providers can provide a critical step in identifying and supporting trafficked persons."

The health system launched the program in 2014 and hopes its guidelines will make it easier for more hospitals and health care systems to identify and support trafficked persons. The guidelines help to educate staff, implement protocols and strengthen communities against human trafficking. It contains educational modules and victim response procedures that engage not only hospital staff and physicians, but also first responders and the community to build a strong multi-agency resource network to prevent exploitation, support trafficked persons and empower survivors.

CDC, FDA expound on guidance regarding contaminated heater-cooler devices

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) responded to questions regarding a health advisory notice sent last year to health care providers and patients about the risk of infection from contaminated heater-cooler devices used during open-heart surgery.  

The Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) asked the CDC and FDA for further detail on several issues, such as if there will be a revised version of the CDC’s “Interim Guide for the Identification of Possible Cases of Nontuberculous Mycobacterium Infections Associated with Exposure to Heater-Cooler Units” issued last May to clarify confusing criteria.

It also questioned the FDA on processes it will use to prioritize and mobilize replacement equipment coming to market for the contaminated heater-cooler units and to ensure that patient safety is not compromised during this transition.

The CDC’s and FDA’s responses were published in APIC’s spring issue of Prevention Strategist.

SHEA, CDC discuss resource management during infectious disease outbreaks

The Outbreak Response Training Program, a joint effort between the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is hosting its second training webinar May 23.

The webinar, “Conflict Management in Times of Competing Resources and Priorities,” is the second of the Effective Communication Webinar Series, designed to train hospital epidemiologists in the interpersonal skills important in an outbreak situation.

Its three learning objectives are to:

  • Identify the stakeholders involved in epidemic preparedness and the relationship to infection prevention and health care epidemiology leaders.
  • Identify areas of limited resources and demonstrate the importance of advanced and systematic planning to avoid conflict.
  • Establish a framework for decision-making when dealing with limited resources in the setting of an epidemic.

Stephen Weber, M.D., ScM, chief medical officer and vice president for clinical effectiveness at the University of Chicago Medicine and an associate professor in the Section of Infectious Diseases and Global Health, will be presenting.