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Despite the existence of various levels of infection prevention and control (IPC) measures aimed at limiting the transmission of vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE) in hospitals, these measures are sometimes difficult to implement. Using an agent-based model (ABM), we simulated the transmission of VRE within and between 3 care units according to different IPC measures.
The ABM was modelled on short-stay medical wards, represented by 2 conventional care units and 1 intensive care unit. The scenarios consisted of the simulation of various compliance rates of caregivers with regard to hand hygiene (HH) in different contexts of IPC measures: (1) standard precautions for all patients, (2) additional contact precautions for VRE-carrier patients, (3) geographical cohorting of carrier patients, and (4) creation of an isolation unit with dedicated staff.
With <50% HH compliance, the dissemination of VRE was not adequately controlled. With 80% compliance for all patients (ie, standard precautions scenario), there were no secondary VRE cases in 50% of the simulations, which represented the best scenario. A more realistic rate, 60% HH compliance for all patients, revealed interesting results. Implementing an isolation unit was effective only if the level of HH compliance was low. Patient cohorting was less effective.
The present ABM showed that while contact precautions, geographic cohorting, and an isolation unit may represent good complements to standard precautions, they may theoretically not be necessary if HH is followed at a high level of compliance.