How Much Is That Doggie in the Long-Term Care Facility Contributing to Resident Risk?

June 30, 2017 | Aging Services Risk, Quality, & Safety Guidance

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​Policies regarding therapy animals in long-term care facilities and hospitals vary widely from facility to facility, according to a Tufts University study to be published in the upcoming issue of the American Journal of Infection Control. Therapy animal programs can improve a person's physical and mental health, the authors said, but without appropriate policies in place, they can pose a risk to both patient and animal safety. Risks of these programs include the transmission of zoonotic disease and spreading bacteria from raw meat the animal may have earlier eaten. A survey of 45 long-term care facilities, 45 hospitals, and 27 therapy animal groups found that not all organizations are addressing these risks. For instance, 22% of long-term care facilities had no policy whatsoever for therapy animals.

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