In this study, we sought to establish a comprehensive inventory of infectious risk moments (IRMs), defined as seemingly innocuous yet frequently occurring care manipulations potentially resulting in transfer of pathogens to patients. We also aimed to develop and employ an observational taxonomy to quantify the frequency and nature of IRMs in acute-care settings.
Prospective observational study and establishment of observational taxonomy.
Intensive care unit, general medical ward, and emergency ward of a university-affiliated hospital.
Healthcare workers (HCWs)
Exploratory observations were conducted to identify IRMs, which were coded based on the surfaces involved in the transmission pathway to establish a structured taxonomy. Structured observations were performed using this taxonomy to quantify IRMs in all 3 settings.
Following 129.17 hours of exploratory observations, identified IRMs involved HCW hands, gloves, care devices, mobile objects, and HCW clothing and accessories. A structured taxonomy called INFORM (INFectiOus Risk Moment) was established to classify each IRM according to the source, vector, and endpoint of potential pathogen transfer. We observed 1,138 IRMs during 53.77 hours of structured observations (31.25 active care hours) for an average foundation of 42.8 IRMs per active care hour overall, and average densities of 34.9, 36.8, and 56.3 IRMs in the intensive care, medical, and emergency wards, respectively.
Hands and gloves remain among the most important contributors to the transfer of pathogens within the healthcare setting, but medical devices, mobile objects, invasive devices, and HCW clothing and accessories may also contribute to patient colonization and/or infection. The INFORM observational taxonomy and IRM inventory presented may benefit clinical risk assessment, training and education, and future research.
Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol 2018;39:272–279