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This SHEA white paper identifies knowledge gaps and challenges in healthcare epidemiology research related to COVID-19 with a focus on core principles of healthcare epidemiology. These gaps, revealed during the worst phases of the COVID-19 pandemic, are described in 10 sections: epidemiology, outbreak investigation, surveillance, isolation precaution practices, personal protective equipment (PPE), environmental contamination and disinfection, drug and supply shortages, antimicrobial stewardship, healthcare personnel (HCP) occupational safety, and return to work policies. Each section highlights three critical healthcare epidemiology research questions with detailed description provided in supplemental materials. This research agenda calls for translational studies from laboratory-based basic science research to well-designed, large-scale studies and health outcomes research. Research gaps and challenges related to nursing homes and social disparities are included. Collaborations across various disciplines, expertise and across diverse geographic locations will be critical.
Immunocompromised patients are at risk for infections due to above-ceiling activities in hospitals. Mobile dust-containment carts are available as environmental controls, but no published data support their efficacy. Using microbial air sampling and particle counts, we provide evidence of reduced risk of fungal exposure during open ceiling activities.
To compare the microbicidal activity of low-temperature sterilization technologies (vaporized hydrogen peroxide [VHP], ethylene oxide [ETO], and hydrogen peroxide gas plasma [HPGP]) to steam sterilization in the presence of salt and serum to simulate inadequate precleaning.
Test carriers were inoculated with Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus, Mycobacterium terrae, Bacillus atrophaeus spores, Geobacillus stearothermophilus spores, or Clostridiodes difficile spores in the presence of salt and serum and then subjected to 4 sterilization technologies: steam, ETO, VHP and HPGP.
Steam, ETO, and HPGP sterilization techniques were capable of inactivating the test organisms on stainless steel carriers with a failure rate of 0% (0 of 220), 1.9% (6 of 310), and 1.9% (5 of 270), respectively. The failure rate for VHP was 76.3% (206 of 270).
Steam sterilization is the most effective and had the largest margin of safety, followed by ETO and HPGP, but VHP showed much less efficacy.
Glyphosate-resistant (GR) canola is a widely grown crop across western Canada and has quickly become a prolific volunteer weed. Glyphosate-resistant soybean is rapidly gaining acreage in western Canada. Thus, there is a need to evaluate herbicide options to manage volunteer GR canola in GR soybean crops. We conducted an experiment to evaluate the efficacy of various PRE and POST herbicides applied sequentially to volunteer GR canola and to evaluate soybean injury caused by these herbicides. Trials were conducted across Saskatchewan and Manitoba in 2014 and 2015. All treatments provided a range of suppression (>70%) to control (>80%) of volunteer canola. All treatments with the exception of the glyphosate-treated control reduced aboveground canola biomass by an average of 96%. As well, canola seed contamination was reduced from 36% to less than 5% when a PRE and POST herbicide were both used. Moreover, all combinations of herbicides used had excellent crop safety (<10%). All PRE and POST herbicide combinations provided better control of volunteer canola compared with the glyphosate-only control, but tribenuron followed by bentazon and tribenuron followed by imazamox plus bentazon provided solutions that were low cost, currently available (registered in western Canada), and had the potential to minimize development of herbicide resistance in other weeds.
Postoperative cognitive impairment is among the most common medical complications associated with surgical interventions – particularly in elderly patients. In our aging society, it is an urgent medical need to determine preoperative individual risk prediction to allow more accurate cost–benefit decisions prior to elective surgeries. So far, risk prediction is mainly based on clinical parameters. However, these parameters only give a rough estimate of the individual risk. At present, there are no molecular or neuroimaging biomarkers available to improve risk prediction and little is known about the etiology and pathophysiology of this clinical condition. In this short review, we summarize the current state of knowledge and briefly present the recently started BioCog project (Biomarker Development for Postoperative Cognitive Impairment in the Elderly), which is funded by the European Union. It is the goal of this research and development (R&D) project, which involves academic and industry partners throughout Europe, to deliver a multivariate algorithm based on clinical assessments as well as molecular and neuroimaging biomarkers to overcome the currently unsatisfying situation.
We describe the delivery of real-time feedback on hand hygiene compliance between healthcare personnel over a 3-year time period via a crowdsourcing web-based application. Feedback delivery as a metric can be used to examine and improve a culture of safety within a healthcare setting.
Clonal Mycobacterium mucogenicum isolates (determined by molecular typing) were recovered from 19 bronchoscopic specimens from 15 patients. None of these patients had evidence of mycobacterial infection. Laboratory culture materials and bronchoscopes were negative for Mycobacteria. This pseudo-outbreak was caused by contaminated ice used to provide bronchoscopic lavage. Control was achieved by transitioning to sterile ice.
To update current estimates of non–device-associated pneumonia (ND pneumonia) rates and their frequency relative to ventilator associated pneumonia (VAP), and identify risk factors for ND pneumonia.
Academic teaching hospital.
All adult hospitalizations between 2013 and 2017 were included. Pneumonia (device associated and non–device associated) were captured through comprehensive, hospital-wide active surveillance using CDC definitions and methodology.
From 2013 to 2017, there were 163,386 hospitalizations (97,485 unique patients) and 771 pneumonia cases (520 ND pneumonia and 191 VAP). The rate of ND pneumonia remained stable, with 4.15 and 4.54 ND pneumonia cases per 10,000 hospitalization days in 2013 and 2017 respectively (P = .65). In 2017, 74% of pneumonia cases were ND pneumonia. Male sex and increasing age we both associated with increased risk of ND pneumonia. Additionally, patients with chronic bronchitis or emphysema (hazard ratio [HR], 2.07; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.40–3.06), congestive heart failure (HR, 1.48; 95% CI, 1.07–2.05), or paralysis (HR, 1.72; 95% CI, 1.09–2.73) were also at increased risk, as were those who were immunosuppressed (HR, 1.54; 95% CI, 1.18–2.00) or in the ICU (HR, 1.49; 95% CI, 1.06–2.09). We did not detect a change in ND pneumonia risk with use of chlorhexidine mouthwash, total parenteral nutrition, all medications of interest, and prior ventilation.
The incidence rate of ND pneumonia did not change from 2013 to 2017, and 3 of 4 nosocomial pneumonia cases were non–device associated. Hospital infection prevention programs should consider expanding the scope of surveillance to include non-ventilated patients. Future research should continue to look for modifiable risk factors and should assess potential prevention strategies.
In recent years, soybean acreage has increased significantly in western Canada. One of the challenges associated with growing soybean in western Canada is the control of volunteer glyphosate-resistant (GR) canola, because most soybean cultivars are also glyphosate resistant. The objective of this research was to determine the impact of soybean seeding rate and planting date on competition with volunteer canola. We also attempted to determine how high seeding rate could be raised while still being economically feasible for producers. Soybean was seeded at five different seeding rates (targeted 10, 20, 40, 80, and 160 plants m−2) and three planting dates (targeted mid-May, late May, and early June) at four sites across western Canada in 2014 and 2015. Soybean yield consistently increased with higher seeding rates, whereas volunteer canola biomass decreased. Planting date generally produced variable results across site-years. An economic analysis determined that the optimal rate was 40 to 60 plants m−2, depending on market price, and the optimal planting date range was from May 20 to June 1.
A novel disinfectant studied using an EPA protocol demonstrated sustained antimicrobial activity (ie, 3–5 log10 reduction) in 5 minutes after 24 hours for Staphylococcus aureus, vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus, Candida auris, carbapenem-resistant Escherichia coli and antibiotic-susceptible E. coli, and Enterobacter spp. Only ∼2 log10 reduction occurred with carbapenem-resistant Enterobacter spp and K. pneumoniae, and antibiotic-susceptible K. pneumoniae.
To update current estimates of non–device-associated urinary tract infection (ND-UTI) rates and their frequency relative to catheter-associated UTIs (CA-UTIs) and to identify risk factors for ND-UTIs.
Academic teaching hospital.
All adult hospitalizations between 2013 and 2017 were included. UTIs (device and non-device associated) were captured through comprehensive, hospital-wide active surveillance using Centers for Disease Control and Prevention case definitions and methodology.
From 2013 to 2017 there were 163,386 hospitalizations (97,485 unique patients) and 1,273 UTIs (715 ND-UTIs and 558 CA-UTIs). The rate of ND-UTIs remained stable, decreasing slightly from 6.14 to 5.57 ND-UTIs per 10,000 hospitalization days during the study period (P = .15). However, the proportion of UTIs that were non–device related increased from 52% to 72% (P < .0001). Female sex (hazard ratio [HR], 1.94; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.50–2.50) and increasing age were associated with increased ND-UTI risk. Additionally, the following conditions were associated with increased risk: peptic ulcer disease (HR, 2.25; 95% CI, 1.04–4.86), immunosuppression (HR, 1.48; 95% CI, 1.15–1.91), trauma admissions (HR, 1.36; 95% CI, 1.02–1.81), total parenteral nutrition (HR, 1.99; 95% CI, 1.35–2.94) and opioid use (HR, 1.62; 95% CI, 1.10–2.32). Urinary retention (HR, 1.41; 95% CI, 0.96–2.07), suprapubic catheterization (HR, 2.28; 95% CI, 0.88–5.91), and nephrostomy tubes (HR, 2.02; 95% CI, 0.83–4.93) may also increase risk, but estimates were imprecise.
Greater than 70% of UTIs are now non–device associated. Current targeted surveillance practices should be reconsidered in light of this changing landscape. We identified several modifiable risk factors for ND-UTIs, and future research should explore the impact of prevention strategies that target these factors.
Research mentor training is a valuable professional development activity. Options for training customization (by delivery mode, dosage, content) are needed to address the many critical attributes of effective mentoring relationships and to support mentors in different institutional settings.
We conducted a pilot randomized controlled trial to evaluate a hybrid mentor training approach consisting of an innovative, 90-minute, self-paced, online module (Optimizing the Practice of Mentoring, OPM) followed by workshops based on the Entering Mentoring (EM) curriculum. Mentors (n = 59) were randomized to intervention or control arms; the control condition was receipt of a two-page mentoring tip sheet. Surveys (pre, post, 3-month follow up) and focus groups assessed training impact (self-appraised knowledge, skills, behavior change) and participants’ perceptions of the blended training model.
The intervention (∼6.5 hours) produced significant improvements in all outcomes, including skills gains on par with those reported previously for the 8-hour EM model. Knowledge gains and intention-to-change mentoring practices were realized after completion of OPM and augmented by the in-person sessions. Mentors valued the synergy of the blended learning format, noting the unique strengths of each modality and specific benefits to completing a foundational online module before in-person engagement.
Findings from this pilot trial support the value of e-learning approaches, both as standalone curricula or as a component of hybrid implementation models, for the professional development of research mentors.
One fundamental barrier to eliminating health disparities, particularly with regard to the determinants of health, is the persistence of discrimination. Civil rights law is the primary legal mechanism used to address discrimination. Federal civil rights laws have been the subject of wider analyses as a determinant of health as well as a tool to address health disparities. The research on state civil rights laws, while more limited, is growing. This article will highlight a few examples of how some states are using civil rights laws to combat discrimination, particularly in more expansive ways and in the interest of new populations, presenting tools that can target determinants and address the goal of reducing health disparities.
Identify changes in the prevalence and antimicrobial resistance patterns of potentially pathogenic bacteria in urine cultures during a 2-year antimicrobial stewardship intervention program in nursing homes (NHs).
Before-and-after intervention study.
The study included 27 NHs in North Carolina.
We audited all urine cultures ordered before and during an antimicrobial stewardship intervention. Analyses compared culture rates, culture positive rates, and pathogen antimicrobial resistance patterns.
Of 6,718 total urine cultures collected, 68% were positive for potentially pathogenic bacteria. During the intervention, significant reductions in the urine culture and positive culture rates were observed (P = .014). Most of the identified potentially uropathogenic isolates were Escherichia coli (38%), Proteus spp (13%), and Klebsiella pneumoniae (12%). A significant decrease was observed during the intervention period in nitrofurantoin resistance among E. coli (P ≤ .001) and ciprofloxacin resistance among Proteus spp (P ≤ .001); however carbapenem resistance increased for Proteus spp (P ≤ .001). Multidrug resistance also increased for Proteus spp compared to the baseline. The high baseline resistance of E. coli to the commonly prescribed antimicrobials ciprofloxacin and trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (TMP/SMX) did not change during the intervention.
The antimicrobial stewardship intervention program significantly reduced urine culture and culture-positive rates. Overall, very high proportions of antimicrobial resistance were observed among common pathogens; however, antimicrobial resistance trended downward but reductions were too small and scattered to conclude that the intervention significantly changed antimicrobial resistance. Longer intervention periods may be needed to effect change in resistance patterns.