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Environmental cleaning is important in the interruption of pathogen transmission. Although prevention initiatives have targeted environmental cleaning, practice variations exist and compliance is low. Evaluation of human factors influencing variations in cleaning practices can be valuable in developing interventions to standardized practices. We conducted a work-system analysis using a human-factors engineering (HFE) framework to identify barriers and facilitators to environmental cleaning practices in acute and long-term care settings within the Veterans’ Affairs health system.
We conducted a qualitative study with key stakeholders at 3 VA facilities. We analyzed transcripts for thematic content and mapped themes to the HFE framework.
Staffing consistency was felt to improve cleaning practices and teamwork. We found that many environmental management service (EMS) staff were veterans who were motivated to serve fellow veterans, especially to prevent infections. However, hiring veterans comes with regulatory hurdles that affect staffing. Sites reported some form of monitoring their cleaning process, but there was variation in method and frequency. The EMS workload was affected by whether rooms were occupied by patients or were semiprivate rooms; both were reportedly more difficult to clean. Room design and surface finishes were identified as important to cleaning efficiency.
HFE work analysis identified barriers and facilitators to environmental cleaning. These findings highlight intervention entry points that may facilitate standardized work practices. There is a need to develop task-specific procedures such as cleaning occupied beds and semiprivate rooms. Future research should evaluate interventions that address these determinants of environmental cleaning.
Contaminated surfaces in healthcare settings contribute to the transmission of nosocomial pathogens. Adequate environmental cleaning is important for preventing the transmission of important pathogens and reducing healthcare-associated infections. However, effective cleaning practices vary considerably. We examined environmental management services (EMS) staff experiences and perceptions surrounding environmental cleaning to describe perceived challenges and ideas to promote an effective environmental services program.
Frontline EMS staff.
From January to June 2019, we conducted individual semistructured interviews with key stakeholders (ie, EMS staff) at 3 facilities within the Veterans’ Affairs Healthcare System. We used the Systems Engineering Initiative for Patient Safety (SEIPS) framework (ie, people, environment, organization, tasks, tools) to guide this study. Interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed, and analyzed for thematic content.
In total, 13 EMS staff and supervisors were interviewed. A predominant theme that emerged were the challenges EMS staff saw as hindering their ability to be effective at their jobs. EMS staff interviewed felt they understand their job requirements and are dedicated to their work; however, they described challenges related to feeling undervalued and staffing issues.
EMS staff play a critical role in infection prevention in healthcare settings. However, some do not believe their role is recognized or valued by the larger healthcare team and leadership. EMS staff provided ideas for improving feelings of value and job satisfaction, including higher pay, opportunities for certifications and advancement, as well as collaboration or integration with the larger healthcare team. Healthcare organizations should focus on utilizing these suggestions to improve the EMS work climate.
To investigate factors that influence antibiotic prescribing decisions, we interviewed 49 antibiotic stewardship champions and stakeholders across 15 hospitals. We conducted thematic analysis and subcoding of decisional factors. We identified 31 factors that influence antibiotic prescribing decisions. These factors may help stewardship programs identify educational targets and design more effective interventions.
Background: Antimicrobials are frequently used during end-of-life care and may be prescribed without a clear clinical indication. Overuse of antimicrobials is a major public health concern because of the development of multidrug resistant organisms (MDROs). Antimicrobial stewardship programs are associated with reductions in antibiotic resistance and antibiotic-associated adverse events. We sought to identify and describe opportunities to successfully incorporate stewardship strategies into end-of-life care. Methods: We completed semistructured interviews with 15 healthcare providers at 2 VA medical centers, 1 inpatient setting and 1 long-term care setting. Interviews were conducted via telephone between November 2020 and June 2021 and covered topics related to antibiotic prescribing for hospice and palliative-care patients, including how to improve antimicrobial stewardship during the end-of-life period. We targeted healthcare providers who are involved in prescribing antibiotics during the end-of-life period, including hospitalists, infectious disease physicians, palliative care and hospice physicians, and pharmacists. All interviews were recorded, transcribed, and analyzed using consensus-based inductive and deductive coding. Results: End-of-life care, particularly hospice care, was described as an underutilized resource for patients, who are often enrolled in their final days of life rather than earlier in the dying process. Even at facilities with established antimicrobial stewardship programs, healthcare providers interviewed believed that opportunities for antimicrobial stewardship in the hospice and palliative care settings were missed. Recommendations for how stewardship should be incorporated in end-of-life care included receiving feedback on antimicrobial prescribing, increasing pharmacist involvement in prescribing decisions, and targeted education for providers on end-of-life care, including the value of shared decision making with patients around antibiotic use. Conclusions: Improved antibiotic prescribing during end-of-life care is critical in the effort to combat antimicrobial resistance. Healthcare providers discussed antimicrobial stewardship activities during end-of-life patient care as a potential avenue to improve appropriate antibiotic prescribing. Future research should evaluate the feasibility and effectiveness of incorporating these strategies into end-of-life patient care.
Background: Antibiotic use during end-of-life (EOL) care is an increasingly important target for antimicrobial stewardship given the high prevalence of antibiotic use in this setting with limited evidence on safety and effectiveness to guide antibiotic decision making. We estimated antibiotic use during the last 6 months of life for patients under hospice or palliative care, and we identified potential targets (ie time points) during the EOL period when antimicrobial stewardship interventions could be targeted for maximal benefit. Methods: We conducted a retrospective cohort study of nationwide Veterans’ Affairs (VA) patients, 18 years and older who died between January 1, 2014, and December 31, 2019, and who had been hospitalized within 6 months prior to death. Data from the VA’s integrated electronic medical record (EMR) were collected including demographics, comorbid conditions, and duration of inpatient antibiotics administered, along with outpatient antibiotics dispensed. A propensity-score matched-cohort analysis was conducted to compare antibiotic use between patients placed into palliative care or hospice matched to patients not receiving palliative care or hospice care. Repeated measures ANOVA and repeated measures linear regression methods were used to analyze difference in difference (D-I-D) of days of therapy (DOT) between the 2 cohorts. Results: There were 251,822 patients in the cohort, including 23,746 in hospice care, 89,768 in palliative care, and 138,308 without palliative or hospice care. The median days from last discharge to death was 9 days. The most common comorbidities were chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases (50%), malignancy (46%), and diabetes mellitus (43%). Overall, 18,296 (77%) of 23,746 hospice patients, and 71,812 (80%) of 89,768 palliative care patients received at least 1 antibiotic, whereas 95,167 (69%) of 138,308 who were not placed in hospice or did not receive palliative care received antibiotics. In the primary matched cohort analysis that compared patients placed into hospice or palliative care to propensity-score matched controls, entry into palliative care was associated with a 11% absolute increase in antibiotic prescribing, and entry into hospice was associated with a 4% absolute increase during the 7–14 days after entry versus the 7–14 days before entry (Fig. 1). The stratified cohorts had very similar balanced covariates as the overall cohort. Conclusions: In our large cohort study, we observed that patients receiving EOL care had high levels of antibiotic exposure across VA population, particularly on entry to hospice or during admissions when they received palliative care consultation. Future studies are needed to identify the optimal EOL strategies for collaboration between antimicrobial stewardship and palliative care.
Background: Environmental cleaning is important in the interruption of pathogen transmission and subsequent infection. Although recent initiatives have targeted cleaning of high-touch surfaces and incorporated audit-and-feedback monitoring of cleaning practices, practice variations exist and compliance is still reportedly low. Evaluation of human factors influencing variations in cleaning practices can be valuable in developing interventions, leading to standardized practices and improved compliance. We conducted a work system analysis using a human-factors engineering framework [the Systems Engineering Initiative for Patient Safety (SEIPS) model] to identify barriers and facilitators to current environmental cleaning practices within Veterans’ Affairs hospitals. Methods: We conducted semistructured interviews with key stakeholders (ie, environmental staff, nursing, and infection preventionists) at 3 VA facilities across acute-care and long-term care settings. Interviews were conducted among 18 healthcare workers, audio recorded, and transcribed verbatim. Transcripts were analyzed for thematic content within the SEIPS constructs (ie, person, environment, organization, tasks, and tools). Results: Within the SEIPS domain ‘person,’ we found that many environment service (EVS) staff were veterans and were highly motivated to serve fellow veterans, especially to prevent them from acquiring infections. However, the hiring of service members as EVS staff comes with significant hurdles that affect staffing. Within the domain of ‘environment’, EVS staff reported rooms that were either occupied by the patient or were multibed, were more difficult to clean. Conversely, they reported that it was easier to clean in settings where the patient was more likely to be out of bed (eg, long-term care residents). Patient flow and/or movement greatly influenced workload within the ‘organizational’ domain. Workload also changed by patient population and setting (eg, the longer the stay or more critical the patient), increased their workload. EVS staff felt that staffing consistency and experience improved cleaning practices. Within the ‘task’ domain, EVS staff were motivated for cleaning high-touch surfaces; however, knowledge of these surfaces varied. Finally, within the ‘tool’ domain, most EVS staff described having effective cleaning products; however, sometimes in limited supply. Most sites reported some form of monitoring of their cleaning process; however, there was variation in type and frequency. Conclusions: Human-factors analysis identified barriers to and facilitators of cleaning compliance. Incorporating environmental cleaning practices that address barriers and facilitators identified may facilitate standardized cleaning of environmental surfaces. Standardized procedures for cleaning multibed rooms and environmental surfaces surrounding occupied beds may improve cleaning compliance. Future research should evaluate standardized cleaning procedures or bundles that incorporate these best practices and steps to overcoming barriers and pilot feasibility.
To develop a fully automated algorithm using data from the Veterans’ Affairs (VA) electrical medical record (EMR) to identify deep-incisional surgical site infections (SSIs) after cardiac surgeries and total joint arthroplasties (TJAs) to be used for research studies.
Retrospective cohort study.
This study was conducted in 11 VA hospitals.
Patients who underwent coronary artery bypass grafting or valve replacement between January 1, 2010, and March 31, 2018 (cardiac cohort) and patients who underwent total hip arthroplasty or total knee arthroplasty between January 1, 2007, and March 31, 2018 (TJA cohort).
Relevant clinical information and administrative code data were extracted from the EMR. The outcomes of interest were mediastinitis, endocarditis, or deep-incisional or organ-space SSI within 30 days after surgery. Multiple logistic regression analysis with a repeated regular bootstrap procedure was used to select variables and to assign points in the models. Sensitivities, specificities, positive predictive values (PPVs) and negative predictive values were calculated with comparison to outcomes collected by the Veterans’ Affairs Surgical Quality Improvement Program (VASQIP).
Overall, 49 (0.5%) of the 13,341 cardiac surgeries were classified as mediastinitis or endocarditis, and 83 (0.6%) of the 12,992 TJAs were classified as deep-incisional or organ-space SSIs. With at least 60% sensitivity, the PPVs of the SSI detection algorithms after cardiac surgeries and TJAs were 52.5% and 62.0%, respectively.
Considering the low prevalence rate of SSIs, our algorithms were successful in identifying a majority of patients with a true SSI while simultaneously reducing false-positive cases. As a next step, validation of these algorithms in different hospital systems with EMR will be needed.
We performed a systematic literature review and meta-analysis measuring the burden of antibiotic use during end-of-life (EOL) care.
We searched PubMed, CINAHL (EBSCO platform), and Embase (Elsevier platform), through July 2019 for studies with the following inclusion criteria in the initial analysis: antibiotic use in the EOL care patients (advanced dementia, cancer, organ failure, frailty or multi-morbidity). If the number of patients in palliative care consultation (PCC) was available, antibiotic use data were pooled to compare the proportion of patients who received antibiotics under PCC compared to those not receiving PCC. Random-effect models were used to obtain pooled mean differences, and heterogeneity was assessed using the I2 value.
Overall, 72 studies met the inclusion criteria and were included in the final review: 22 EOL studies included only patients with cancer; 17 studies included only patients with advanced dementia; and 33 studies included “mixed populations” of EOL patients. Although few studies reported antibiotic using standard metrics (eg, days of therapy), 48 of 72 studies (66.7%) reported antibiotic use in >50% of all patients. When the 3 studies that evaluated antibiotic use in PCC were pooled together, patients under PCC was more likely to receive antibiotics compared to patients not under PCC (pooled odds ratio, 1.73; 95% CI, 1.02–2.93).
Future studies are needed to evaluate the benefits and harms of using antibiotics for patients during EOL care in diverse patient populations.
Background: Studies of interventions to decrease rates of surgical site infections (SSIs) must include thousands of patients to be statistically powered to demonstrate a significant reduction. Therefore, it is important to develop methodology to extract data available in the electronic medical record (EMR) to accurately measure SSI rates. Prior studies have created tools that optimize sensitivity to prioritize chart review for infection control purposes. However, for research studies, positive predictive value (PPV) with reasonable sensitivity is preferred to limit the impact of false-positive results on the assessment of intervention effectiveness. Using information from the prior tools, we aimed to determine whether an algorithm using data available in the Veterans Affairs (VA) EMR could accurately and efficiently identify deep incisional or organ-space SSIs found in the VA Surgical Quality Improvement Program (VASQIP) data set for cardiac and orthopedic surgery patients. Methods: We conducted a retrospective cohort study of patients who underwent cardiac surgery or total joint arthroplasty (TJA) at 11 VA hospitals between January 1, 2007, and April 30, 2017. We used EMR data that were recorded in the 30 days after surgery on inflammatory markers; microbiology; antibiotics prescribed after surgery; International Classification of Diseases (ICD) and current procedural terminology (CPT) codes for reoperation for an infection related purpose; and ICD codes for mediastinitis, prosthetic joint infection, and other SSIs. These metrics were used in an algorithm to determine whether a patient had a deep or organ-space SSI. Sensitivity, specificity, PPV and negative predictive values (NPV) were calculated for accuracy of the algorithm through comparison with 30-day SSI outcomes collected by nurse chart review in the VASQIP data set. Results: Among the 11 VA hospitals, there were 18,224 cardiac surgeries and 16,592 TJA during the study period. Of these, 20,043 were evaluated by VASQIP nurses and were included in our final cohort. Of the 8,803 cardiac surgeries included, manual review identified 44 (0.50%) mediastinitis cases. Of the 11,240 TJAs, manual review identified 71 (0.63%) deep or organ-space SSIs. Our algorithm identified 32 of the mediastinitis cases (73%) and 58 of the deep or organ-space SSI cases (82%). Sensitivity, specificity, PPV, and NPV are shown in Table 1. Of the patients that our algorithm identified as having a deep or organ-space SSI, only 21% (PPV) actually had an SSI after cardiac surgery or TJA. Conclusions: Use of the algorithm can identify most complex SSIs (73%–82%), but other data are necessary to separate false-positive from true-positive cases and to improve the efficiency of case detection to support research questions.
Background: Enhanced terminal room cleaning with ultraviolet C (UVC) disinfection has become more commonly used as a strategy to reduce the transmission of important nosocomial pathogens, including Clostridioides difficile, but the real-world effectiveness remains unclear. Objectives: We aimed to assess the association of UVC disinfection during terminal cleaning with the incidence of healthcare-associated C. difficile infection and positive test results for C. difficile within the nationwide Veterans Health Administration (VHA) System. Methods: Using a nationwide survey of VHA system acute-care hospitals, information on UV-C system utilization and date of implementation was obtained. Hospital-level incidence rates of clinically confirmed hospital-onset C. difficile infection (HO-CDI) and positive test results with recent healthcare exposures (both hospital-onset [HO-LabID] and community-onset healthcare-associated [CO-HA-LabID]) at acute-care units between January 2010 and December 2018 were obtained through routine surveillance with bed days of care (BDOC) as the denominator. We analyzed the association of UVC disinfection with incidence rates of HO-CDI, HO-Lab-ID, and CO-HA-LabID using a nonrandomized, stepped-wedge design, using negative binomial regression model with hospital-specific random intercept, the presence or absence of UVC disinfection use for each month, with baseline trend and seasonality as explanatory variables. Results: Among 143 VHA acute-care hospitals, 129 hospitals (90.2%) responded to the survey and were included in the analysis. UVC use was reported from 42 hospitals with various implementation start dates (range, June 2010 through June 2017). We identified 23,021 positive C. difficile test results (HO-Lab ID: 5,014) with 16,213 HO-CDI and 24,083,252 BDOC from the 129 hospitals during the study period. There were declining baseline trends nationwide (mean, −0.6% per month) for HO-CDI. The use of UV-C had no statistically significant association with incidence rates of HO-CDI (incidence rate ratio [IRR], 1.032; 95% CI, 0.963–1.106; P = .65) or incidence rates of healthcare-associated positive C. difficile test results (HO-Lab). Conclusions: In this large quasi-experimental analysis within the VHA System, the enhanced terminal room cleaning with UVC disinfection was not associated with the change in incidence rates of clinically confirmed hospital-onset CDI or positive test results with recent healthcare exposure. Further research is needed to understand reasons for lack of effectiveness, such as understanding barriers to utilization.
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