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To determine whether total and antianaerobic antibiotic exposure increases the risk of room contamination among vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE)–colonized patients.
Design And Setting.
A 14-month study in 2 intensive care units at an academic tertiary care hospital in Boston, Massachusetts.
All patients who acquired VRE or were VRE-colonized on admission and who had environmental cultures performed.
We performed weekly environmental cultures (2 sites per room) and considered a room to be contaminated if there was a VRE-positive environmental culture during the patient's stay. We determined risk factors for room contamination by use of the Cox proportional hazards model.
Of 142 VRE-colonized patients, 35 (25%) had an associated VRE-positive environmental culture. Patients who contaminated their rooms were more likely to have diarrhea than those who did not contaminate their rooms (23 [66%] of 35 vs 41 [38%] of 107; P = .005) and more likely to have received antibiotics while VRE colonized (33 [94%] of 35 vs 86 [80%] of 107; P = .02). There was no significant difference in room contamination rates between patients exposed to antianaerobic regimens and patients exposed to nonantianaerobic regimens or between patients with and patients without diarrhea, but patients without any antibiotic exposure were unlikely to contaminate their rooms. Diarrhea and antibiotic use were strongly confounded; although two-thirds of room contamination occurred in rooms of patients with diarrhea, nearly all of these patients received antibiotics. In multivariable analysis, higher mean colonization pressure in the ICU increased the risk of room contamination (adjusted hazard ratio per 10% increase, 1.44 [95% confidence interval, 1.04–2.04]), whereas no antibiotic use during VRE colonization was protective (adjusted hazard ratio, 0.21 [95% confidence interval, 0.05–0.89]).
Room contamination with VRE was associated with increased mean colonization pressure in the ICU and diarrhea in the VRE-colonized patient, whereas no use of any antibiotics during VRE colonization was protective.
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