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Individually packaged sterile supply items may become contaminated and act as vectors for nosocomial transmission of multidrug-resistant organisms (MDROs). Thus, many hospitals have a policy to dispose of these unused, packaged supply items at patient discharge from the hospital, which has considerable cost implications. We evaluated the frequency of contamination of these items, the efficacy of hydrogen peroxide vapor (HPV) in disinfecting them, and costs associated with discarded supplies.
A pilot study was performed in the rooms of 20 patients known to be colonized or infected with vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE), and a follow-up study was performed in an additional 20 rooms of patients under precautions for various MDROs in 6 high-risk units. Five pairs of supply items were selected. One item of each pair was sampled without exposure to HPV, and the other was sampled after HPV exposure. The cost of discarded supplies was calculated by examining stock lists of supplies stored on the study units.
Seven (7%) of 100 items were contaminated with VRE in the pilot study, and 9 (9%) of 100 items were contaminated with MDROs in the follow-up study. None of the items were contaminated after exposure to HPV (P < .02 in both the pilot and the follow-up study). The annual cost of supplies discarded at patient hospital discharge was $387,055. This figure does not include the cost of waste disposal and is therefore likely to be an underestimation of the financial burden.
HPV effectively disinfected the packaging of supply items, which could generate considerable financial and environmental benefits.
To develop a method for selecting health care–associated infection (HAI) measures for public reporting.
HAIs are common, serious, and costly adverse outcomes of medical care that affect 2 million people in the United States annually. Thirty-seven states have introduced or passed legislation requiring public reporting of HAI measures. State legislation varies widely regarding which HAIs to report, how the data are collected and reported, and public availability of results.
The Maryland Health Care Commission developed an HAI Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) that consisted of a group of experts in the field of healthcare epidemiology, infection prevention and control (IPC), and public health. This group reviewed public reporting systems in other states, surveyed Maryland hospitals to determine the current state of IPC programs, performed a literature review on HAI measures, and developed six criteria for ranking the measures: impact, unprovability, inclusiveness, frequency, functionality, and feasibility. The committee and experts in the field then ranked each of 18 proposed HAI measures. A composite score was determined for each measure.
Among outcome measures, the rate of central line–associated bloodstream infections ranked highest, followed by the rate of post–coronary artery bypass grafting surgical-site infections. Among process measures, perioperative antimicrobial prophylaxis, compliance with central-line bundles, compliance with hand hygiene, and healthcare-worker influenza vaccination ranked highest.
Our qualitative criteria facilitated consensus on the HAI TAC and provided a useful framework for public reporting of HAI measures. Validation will be important for such approaches to be supported by the scientific community.
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