Designated Infection Control Officer

Source: EMR-ISAC

To comprehend the duties of the designated infection control officer (DICO) as they pertain to the preparedness and protection of emergency services sector personnel, the Emergency Management and Response—Information Sharing and Analysis Center (EMR-ISAC) reviewed the Fire Engineering article titled, “The Designated Officer’s Role for Infection Control.”

Subpart B of the 1990 Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency Act, Public Law 101-381 (PDF, 2.4 Mb) requires every emergency response entity in the country to have a DICO, which includes firefighters, emergency medical technicians, paramedics, police officers, and volunteers. The emergency response provisions of this law were stricken from the 2006 Congressional reauthorization; however, these provisions were reinstated in the reauthorization of October 1, 2009.

According to the authors, the selection of the department DICO is very important and should be based on serious interest in the 24/7 responsibility, self-motivation, and desire to stay current on medical information, laws, and regulations. The prospective candidate should understand there is much more involved than just knowing when to send a potentially exposed employee to the medical facility. “A truly knowledgeable DICO will assist in ensuring proper care if an exposure occurs and will assist management with liability and cost reduction,” the article says.

As seen in this article, the following DICO major duties are summarized for the consideration of department chief officers, administrators, and incumbent DICO personnel:

  • Notification of key personnel for exposure reporting
  • Evaluation of possible exposure events
  • Documentation of the exposure follow-up process
  • Consultation with the medical facility
  • Monitoring laws, regulations, and guidelines for compliance
  • Education of department members
  • Data collection

Conscientious performance of these duties can make a significant difference in protecting department employees from exposure to or spread of communicable diseases.