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In the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Clinical Center, patients colonized or infected with vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE) are placed in contact isolation until they are deemed “decolonized,” defined as having 3 consecutive perirectal swabs negative for VRE. Some decolonized patients later develop recurrent growth of VRE from surveillance or clinical cultures (ie, “recolonized”), although that finding may represent recrudescence or new acquisition of VRE. We describe the dynamics of VRE colonization and infection and their relationship to receipt of antibiotics.
In this retrospective cohort study of patients at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center, baseline characteristics were collected via chart review. Antibiotic exposure and hospital days were calculated as proportions of VRE decolonized days. Using survival analysis, we assessed the relationship between antibiotic exposure and time to VRE recolonization in a subcohort analysis of 72 decolonized patients.
In total, 350 patients were either colonized or infected with VRE. Among polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-positive, culture (Cx)-negative (PCR+/Cx−) patients, PCR had a 39% positive predictive value for colonization. Colonization with VRE was significantly associated with VRE infection. Among 72 patients who met decolonization criteria, 21 (29%) subsequently became recolonized. VRE recolonization was 4.3 (P = .001) and 2.0 (P = .22) times higher in patients with proportions of antibiotic days and antianaerobic antibiotic days above the median, respectively.
Colonization is associated with clinical VRE infection and increased mortality. Despite negative perirectal cultures, re-exposure to antibiotics increases the risk of VRE recolonization.
Multidrug-resistant Acinetobacter baumannii (MDRAB) is difficult to treat and eradicate. Several reports describe isolation and environmental cleaning strategies that controlled hospital MDRAB outbreaks. Such interventions were insufficient to interrupt MDRAB transmission in 2 intensive care unit-based outbreaks in our hospital. We describe strategies that were associated with termination of MDRAB outbreaks at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center.
In response to MDRAB outbreaks in 2007 and 2009, we implemented multiple interventions, including stakeholder meetings, enhanced isolation precautions, active microbial surveillance, cohorting, and extensive environmental cleaning. We conducted a case-control study to analyze risk factors for acquiring MDRAB. In each outbreak, infection control adherence monitors were placed in MDRAB cohort areas to observe and correct staff infection control behavior.
Between May 2007 and December 2009, 63 patients acquired nosocomial MDRAB; 57 (90%) acquired 1 or more of 4 outbreak strains. Of 347 environmental cultures, only 2 grew outbreak strains of MDRAB from areas other than MDRAB patient rooms. Adherence monitors recorded 1,330 isolation room entries in 2007, of which 8% required interventions. In 2009, around-the-clock monitors recorded 4,892 staff observations, including 127 (2.6%) instances of nonadherence with precautions, requiring 68 interventions (1.4%). Physicians were responsible for more violations than other staff (58% of hand hygiene violations and 37% of violations relating to gown and glove use). Each outbreak terminated in temporal association with initiation of adherence monitoring.
Although labor intensive, adherence monitoring may be useful as part of a multifaceted strategy to limit nosocomial transmission of MDRAB.
Although influenza vaccination of healthcare workers reduces influenza-like illness and overall mortality among patients, national rates of vaccination for healthcare providers are unacceptably low. We report the implementation of a new mandatory vaccination policy by means of a streamlined electronic enrollment and vaccination tracking system at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Clinical Center.
To evaluate the outcome of a new mandatory staff influenza vaccination program.
A new hospital policy endorsed by all the component NIH institutes and the Clinical Center departments mandated that employees who have patient contact either be vaccinated annually against influenza or sign a declination specifying the reason(s) for refusal. Those who fail to comply would be required to appear before the Medical Executive Committee to explain their rationale. We collected in a database the names of all physician and nonphysician staff who had patient contact. When a staff member either was vaccinated or declined vaccination, a simple system of badge scanning and bar-coded data entry captured essential data. The database was continuously updated, and it provided a list of noncompliant employees with whom to follow up.
By February 12, 2009, all 2,754 identified patient-care employees either were vaccinated or formally declined vaccination. Among those, 2,424 (88%) were vaccinated either at the NIH or elsewhere, 36 (1.3%) reported medical contraindications, and 294 (10.7%) declined vaccination for other reasons. Among the 294 employees without medical contraindications who declined, the most frequent reason given for declination was concern about side effects.
Implementation of a novel vaccination tracking process and a hospital policy requiring influenza vaccination or declination yielded dramatic improvement in healthcare worker vaccination rates and likely will result in increased patient safety in our hospital.
Nosocomial outbreaks of Legionnaires disease have been linked to contaminated water in hospitals. Immunocompromised patients are particularly vulnerable and, when infected, have a high mortality rate. We report the investigation of a cluster of cases of nosocomial pneumonia attributable to Legionella pneumophila serogroup 1 that occurred among patients on our stem cell transplantation unit.
We conducted a record review to identify common points of potential exposure, followed by environmental and water sampling for Legionella species from those sources. We used an air sampler to in an attempt to detect aerosolized Legionella and pulsed-field gel electrophoresis to compare clinical and environmental isolates.
The most likely sources identified were the water supply in the patients' rooms and a decorative fountain in the radiation oncology suite. Samples from the patients' rooms did not grow Legionella species. Cultures of the fountain, which had been restarted 4 months earlier after being shut off for 5 months, yielded L. pneumophila serogroup 1. The isolates from both patients and the fountain were identical by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis. Both patients developed pneumonia within 10 days of completing radiation therapy, and each reported having observed the fountain at close range. Both patients' infections were identified early and treated promptly, and both recovered.
This cluster was caused by contamination of a decorative fountain despite its being equipped with a filter and ozone generator. Fountains are a potential source of nosocomial Legionnaires disease despite standard maintenance and sanitizing measures. In our opinion, fountains present unacceptable risk in hospitals serving immunocompromised patients.
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