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The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has demonstrated the importance of stewardship of viral diagnostic tests to aid infection prevention efforts in healthcare facilities. We highlight diagnostic stewardship lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic and discuss how diagnostic stewardship principles can inform management and mitigation of future emerging pathogens in acute-care settings. Diagnostic stewardship during the COVID-19 pandemic evolved as information regarding transmission (eg, routes, timing, and efficiency of transmission) became available. Diagnostic testing approaches varied depending on the availability of tests and when supplies and resources became available. Diagnostic stewardship lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic include the importance of prioritizing robust infection prevention mitigation controls above universal admission testing and considering preprocedure testing, contact tracing, and surveillance in the healthcare facility in certain scenarios. In the future, optimal diagnostic stewardship approaches should be tailored to specific pathogen virulence, transmissibility, and transmission routes, as well as disease severity, availability of effective treatments and vaccines, and timing of infectiousness relative to symptoms. This document is part of a series of papers developed by the Society of Healthcare Epidemiology of America on diagnostic stewardship in infection prevention and antibiotic stewardship.1
Since the initial publication of A Compendium of Strategies to Prevent Healthcare-Associated Infections in Acute Care Hospitals in 2008, the prevention of healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) has continued to be a national priority. Progress in healthcare epidemiology, infection prevention, antimicrobial stewardship, and implementation science research has led to improvements in our understanding of effective strategies for HAI prevention. Despite these advances, HAIs continue to affect ∼1 of every 31 hospitalized patients,1 leading to substantial morbidity, mortality, and excess healthcare expenditures,1 and persistent gaps remain between what is recommended and what is practiced.
The widespread impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic on HAI outcomes2 in acute-care hospitals has further highlighted the essential role of infection prevention programs and the critical importance of prioritizing efforts that can be sustained even in the face of resource requirements from COVID-19 and future infectious diseases crises.3
The Compendium: 2022 Updates document provides acute-care hospitals with up-to-date, practical expert guidance to assist in prioritizing and implementing HAI prevention efforts. It is the product of a highly collaborative effort led by the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA), the Infectious Disease Society of America (IDSA), the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC), the American Hospital Association (AHA), and The Joint Commission, with major contributions from representatives of organizations and societies with content expertise, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Pediatric Infectious Disease Society (PIDS), the Society for Critical Care Medicine (SCCM), the Society for Hospital Medicine (SHM), the Surgical Infection Society (SIS), and others.
Antimicrobial stewardship programs (ASPs) exist to optimize antibiotic use, reduce selection for antimicrobial-resistant microorganisms, and improve patient outcomes. Rapid and accurate diagnosis is essential to optimal antibiotic use. Because diagnostic testing plays a significant role in diagnosing patients, it has one of the strongest influences on clinician antibiotic prescribing behaviors. Diagnostic stewardship, consequently, has emerged to improve clinician diagnostic testing and test result interpretation. Antimicrobial stewardship and diagnostic stewardship share common goals and are synergistic when used together. Although ASP requires a relationship with clinicians and focuses on person-to-person communication, diagnostic stewardship centers on a relationship with the laboratory and hardwiring testing changes into laboratory processes and the electronic health record. Here, we discuss how diagnostic stewardship can optimize the “Four Moments of Antibiotic Decision Making” created by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and work synergistically with ASPs.
To assess whether measurement and feedback of chlorhexidine gluconate (CHG) skin concentrations can improve CHG bathing practice across multiple intensive care units (ICUs).
A before-and-after quality improvement study measuring patient CHG skin concentrations during 6 point-prevalence surveys (3 surveys each during baseline and intervention periods).
The study was conducted across 7 geographically diverse ICUs with routine CHG bathing.
Adult patients in the medical ICU.
CHG skin concentrations were measured at the neck, axilla, and inguinal region using a semiquantitative colorimetric assay. Aggregate unit-level CHG skin concentration measurements from the baseline period and each intervention period survey were reported back to ICU leadership, which then used routine education and quality improvement activities to improve CHG bathing practice. We used multilevel linear models to assess the impact of intervention on CHG skin concentrations.
We enrolled 681 (93%) of 736 eligible patients; 92% received a CHG bath prior to survey. At baseline, CHG skin concentrations were lowest on the neck, compared to axillary or inguinal regions (P < .001). CHG was not detected on 33% of necks, 19% of axillae, and 18% of inguinal regions (P < .001 for differences in body sites). During the intervention period, ICUs that used CHG-impregnated cloths had a 3-fold increase in patient CHG skin concentrations as compared to baseline (P < .001).
Routine CHG bathing performance in the ICU varied across multiple hospitals. Measurement and feedback of CHG skin concentrations can be an important tool to improve CHG bathing practice.
We provide an overview of diagnostic stewardship with key concepts that include the diagnostic pathway and the multiple points where interventions can be implemented, strategies for interventions, the importance of multidisciplinary collaboration, and key microbiologic diagnostic tests that should be considered for diagnostic stewardship. The document focuses on microbiologic laboratory testing for adult and pediatric patients and is intended for a target audience of healthcare workers involved in diagnostic stewardship interventions and all workers affected by any step of the diagnostic pathway (ie, ordering, collecting, processing, reporting, and interpreting results of a diagnostic test). This document was developed by the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America Diagnostic Stewardship Taskforce.
Testing of asymptomatic patients for severe acute respiratory coronavirus virus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) (ie, “asymptomatic screening) to attempt to reduce the risk of nosocomial transmission has been extensive and resource intensive, and such testing is of unclear benefit when added to other layers of infection prevention mitigation controls. In addition, the logistic challenges and costs related to screening program implementation, data noting the lack of substantial aerosol generation with elective controlled intubation, extubation, and other procedures, and the adverse patient and facility consequences of asymptomatic screening call into question the utility of this infection prevention intervention. Consequently, the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA) recommends against routine universal use of asymptomatic screening for SARS-CoV-2 in healthcare facilities. Specifically, preprocedure asymptomatic screening is unlikely to provide incremental benefit in preventing SARS-CoV-2 transmission in the procedural and perioperative environment when other infection prevention strategies are in place, and it should not be considered a requirement for all patients. Admission screening may be beneficial during times of increased virus transmission in some settings where other layers of controls are limited (eg, behavioral health, congregate care, or shared patient rooms), but widespread routine use of admission asymptomatic screening is not recommended over strengthening other infection prevention controls. In this commentary, we outline the challenges surrounding the use of asymptomatic screening, including logistics and costs of implementing a screening program, and adverse patient and facility consequences. We review data pertaining to the lack of substantial aerosol generation during elective controlled intubation, extubation, and other procedures, and we provide guidance for when asymptomatic screening for SARS-CoV-2 may be considered in a limited scope.
Background:Candida auris is an emerging multidrug-resistant yeast that is transmitted in healthcare facilities and is associated with substantial morbidity and mortality. Environmental contamination is suspected to play an important role in transmission but additional information is needed to inform environmental cleaning recommendations to prevent spread. Methods: We conducted a multiregional (Chicago, IL; Irvine, CA) prospective study of environmental contamination associated with C. auris colonization of patients and residents of 4 long-term care facilities and 1 acute-care hospital. Participants were identified by screening or clinical cultures. Samples were collected from participants’ body sites (eg, nares, axillae, inguinal creases, palms and fingertips, and perianal skin) and their environment before room cleaning. Daily room cleaning and disinfection by facility environmental service workers was followed by targeted cleaning of high-touch surfaces by research staff using hydrogen peroxide wipes (see EPA-approved product for C. auris, List P). Samples were collected immediately after cleaning from high-touch surfaces and repeated at 4-hour intervals up to 12 hours. A pilot phase (n = 12 patients) was conducted to identify the value of testing specific high-touch surfaces to assess environmental contamination. High-yield surfaces were included in the full evaluation phase (n = 20 patients) (Fig. 1). Samples were submitted for semiquantitative culture of C. auris and other multidrug-resistant organisms (MDROs) including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE), extended-spectrum β-lactamase–producing Enterobacterales (ESBLs), and carbapenem-resistant Enterobacterales (CRE). Times to room surface contamination with C. auris and other MDROs after effective cleaning were analyzed. Results:Candida auris colonization was most frequently detected in the nares (72%) and palms and fingertips (72%). Cocolonization of body sites with other MDROs was common (Fig. 2). Surfaces located close to the patient were commonly recontaminated with C. auris by 4 hours after cleaning, including the overbed table (24%), bed handrail (24%), and TV remote or call button (19%). Environmental cocontamination was more common with resistant gram-positive organisms (MRSA and, VRE) than resistant gram-negative organisms (Fig. 3). C. auris was rarely detected on surfaces located outside a patient’s room (1 of 120 swabs; <1%). Conclusions: Environmental surfaces near C. auris–colonized patients were rapidly recontaminated after cleaning and disinfection. Cocolonization of skin and environment with other MDROs was common, with resistant gram-positive organisms predominating over gram-negative organisms on environmental surfaces. Limitations include lack of organism sequencing or typing to confirm environmental contamination was from the room resident. Rapid recontamination of environmental surfaces after manual cleaning and disinfection suggests that alternate mitigation strategies should be evaluated.
Background: Bathing ICU patients with chlorhexidine gluconate (CHG) decreases bloodstream infections and multidrug-resistant organism transmission. The efficacy of CHG bathing on skin microorganism reduction may be influenced by patient-level clinical factors. We assessed the impact of clinical factors on the recovery of microorganisms from the skin of patients admitted to an ICU who were receiving routine CHG bathing. Methods: We analyzed data obtained from 6 single-day point-prevalence surveys of adult ICU patients between January and October 2018 at 1 medical ICU, in the context of a CHG bathing quality initiative. Demographics and covariates were collected at the bedside and by chart review. Skin swabs were collected from neck, axilla, and inguinal regions and were plated to selective and nonselective media. Standard microbiologic methods were used for species identification and susceptibilities. Multivariable models included patients who received a CHG bath and accounted for clustering of body sites within patients. Results: Across all time points, 144 patients participated, yielding 429 skin swab samples. Mean age was 57 years (SD, 17); 49% were male; 44% had a central venous catheter; and 15% had a tracheostomy Also, 140 patients (97%) had >1 CHG bath prior to skin swab collection, with a median of 9 hours since their last CHG bath (IQR, 6–13 hours). Gram-positive bacteria were more commonly recovered than gram-negative or Candida spp across all skin sites (Table 1). Variation by body site was detected only for gram-positive bacteria, with recovery more common from the neck compared to axilla or groin sites. On multivariate logistic regression (Table 2), presence of central venous catheter was associated with lower odds of gram-positive bacteria recovery among those who received a CHG bath. Presence of tracheostomy was associated with a significantly higher odds of gram-negative bacteria detection on skin. No clinical factors were independently associated with recovery of Candida spp. Conclusions: Central venous catheter presence was associated with lower odds of gram-positive bacteria detection on skin, suggesting the possibility of higher quality CHG bathing among such patients. Tracheostomy presence was associated with greater odds of gram-negative bacteria detection, suggesting that it may be a potential reservoir for skin contamination or colonization. Indwelling medical devices may influence CHG bathing effectiveness in reducing microorganism burden on skin.
Background: Contact tracing alone is often inadequate to determine the source of healthcare personnel (HCP) COVID-19 when SARS-CoV-2 is widespread in the community. We combined whole-genome sequencing (WGS) with traditional epidemiologic analysis to investigate the frequency with which patients or other HCP with symptomatic COVID-19 acted as the source of HCP infection at a large tertiary-care center early in the pandemic. Methods: Cohort samples were selected from patients and HCP with PCR-positive SARS-CoV-2 infection from a period with complete retention of samples (March 14, 2021–April 10, 2020) at Rush University Medical Center, a 664-bed hospital in Chicago, Illinois. During this period, testing was limited to symptomatic patients and HCP. Recommended respiratory equipment for HCP evolved under guidance, including a 19-day period when medical face masks were recommended for COVID-19 care except for aerosol-generating procedures. Viral RNA was extracted and sequenced (NovaSeq, Illumina) from remnant nasopharyngeal swab samples in M4RT viral transport medium. Genomes with >90% coverage underwent cluster detection using a 2 single-nucleotide variant genetic distance cutoff. Genomic clusters were independently evaluated for valid epidemiologic links by 2 infectious diseases physicians (with a third adjudicator) using metadata extracted from the electronic medical record and according to predetermined criteria (Table 1). Results: In total, 1,031 SARS-CoV-2 sequences were analyzed, identifying 49 genomic clusters with HCP (median, 8; range, 2–43 members per cluster; total, 268 patients and 115 HCP) (Fig. 1). Also, 20,190 flowsheet activities were documented for cohort HCP and patient interactions, including 686 instances in which a cohort HCP contributed to a cohort patient’s chart. Most HCP infections were considered not healthcare associated (88 of 115, 76.5%). We did not identify any strong linkages for patient-to-HCP transmission. Moreover, 13 HCP cases (11.3%) were attributed to patient source (weak linkage). Also, 14 HCP cases (12.2%) were attributed to HCP source (11 strong and 3 weak linkages). Weak linkages were due to lack of epidemiologic data for HCP location, particularly nonclinical staff (eg, an environmental service worker who lacked location documentation to rule out patient-specific contact). Agreement for epidemiologic linkage between the 2 evaluators was high (κ, 0.91). Conclusions: Using genomic and epidemiologic data, we found that most HCP COVID-19 infections were not healthcare associated. We found weak evidence to support symptomatic patient-to-HCP transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and stronger evidence for HCP-to-HCP transmission. Large genomic clusters without plausible epidemiologic links were identified, reflecting the limited utility of genomic surveillance alone to characterize chains of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 during extensive community spread.
Background: Identification of hospitalized patients with enteric multidrug-resistant organism (MDRO) carriage, combined with implementation of targeted infection control interventions, may help reduce MDRO transmission. However, the optimal surveillance approach has not been defined. We sought to determine whether daily serial rectal surveillance for MDROs detects more incident cases (acquisition) of MDRO colonization in medical intensive care unit (MICU) patients than admission and discharge surveillance alone. Methods: Prospective longitudinal observational single-center study from January 11, 2017, to January 11, 2018. Inclusion criteria were ≥3 consecutive MICU days and ≥2 rectal or stool swabs per MICU admission. Daily rectal or stool swabs were collected from patients and cultured for MDROs, including vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE), carbapenem-resistant Enterobacterales (CRE), third-generation cephalosporin-resistant Enterobacterales (3GCR), and extended-spectrum β-lactamase–producing Enterobacterales (ESBL-E) (as a subset of 3GCR). MDRO detection at any time during the MICU stay was used to calculate prevalent colonization. Incident colonization (acquisition) was defined as new detection of an MDRO after at least 1 prior negative swab. We then determined the proportion of prevalent and incident cases detected by daily testing that were also detected when only first swabs (admission) and last swabs (discharge) were tested. Data were analyzed using SAS version 9.4 software. Results: In total, 939 MICU stays of 842 patients were analyzed. Patient characteristics were median age 64 years (interquartile range [IQR], 51–74), median MICU length of stay 5 days (IQR, 3–8), median number of samples per admission 3 (IQR, 2–5), and median Charlson index 4 (IQR, 2–7). Prevalent colonization with any MDRO was detected by daily swabbing in 401 stays (42.7%). Compared to daily serial swabbing, an admission- and discharge-only approach detected ≥86% of MDRO cases (ie, overall prevalent MDRO colonization). Detection of incident MDRO colonization by an admission- or discharge-only approach would have detected fewer cases than daily swabbing (Figure 1); ≥34% of total MDRO acquisitions would have been missed. Conclusions: Testing patients upon admission and discharge to an MICU may fail to detect MDRO acquisition in more than one-third of patients, thereby reducing the effectiveness of MDRO control programs that are targeted against known MDRO carriers. The poor performance of a single discharge swab may be due to intermittent or low-level MDRO shedding, inadequate sampling, or transient MDRO colonization. Additional research is needed to determine the optimal surveillance approach of enteric MDRO carriage.
We surveyed pediatric antimicrobial stewardship program (ASP) site leaders within the Sharing Antimicrobial Reports for Pediatric Stewardship collaborative regarding discharge stewardship practices. Among 67 sites, 13 (19%) reported ASP review of discharge antimicrobial prescriptions. These findings highlight discharge stewardship as a potential opportunity for improvement during the hospital-to-home transition.
Infectious diseases outbreaks are a cause of significant morbidity and mortality among hospitalized patients. Infants admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) are particularly vulnerable to infectious complications during hospitalization. Thus, rapid recognition of and response to outbreaks in the NICU is essential. At Rush University Medical Center, whole-genome sequencing (WGS) has been utilized since early 2016 as an adjunctive method for outbreak investigations. The use of WGS and potential lessons learned are illustrated for 3 different NICU outbreak investigations involving methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), group B Streptococcus (GBS), and Serratia marcescens. WGS has contributed to the understanding of the epidemiology of outbreaks in our NICU, and it has also provided further insight in settings of unusual diseases or when lower-resolution typing methods have been inadequate. WGS has emerged as the new gold standard for evaluating strain relatedness. As barriers to implementation are overcome, WGS has the potential to transform outbreak investigation in healthcare settings.
Ventilator-capable skilled nursing facilities (vSNFs) are critical to the epidemiology and control of antibiotic-resistant organisms. During an infection prevention intervention to control carbapenem-resistant Enterobacterales (CRE), we conducted a qualitative study to characterize vSNF healthcare personnel beliefs and experiences regarding infection control measures.
A qualitative study involving semistructured interviews.
One vSNF in the Chicago, Illinois, metropolitan region.
The study included 17 healthcare personnel representing management, nursing, and nursing assistants.
We used face-to-face, semistructured interviews to measure healthcare personnel experiences with infection control measures at the midpoint of a 2-year quality improvement project.
Healthcare personnel characterized their facility as a home-like environment, yet they recognized that it is a setting where germs were ‘invisible’ and potentially ‘threatening.’ Healthcare personnel described elaborate self-protection measures to avoid acquisition or transfer of germs to their own household. Healthcare personnel were motivated to implement infection control measures to protect residents, but many identified structural barriers such as understaffing and time constraints, and some reported persistent preference for soap and water.
Healthcare personnel in vSNFs, from management to frontline staff, understood germ theory and the significance of multidrug-resistant organism transmission. However, their ability to implement infection control measures was hampered by resource limitations and mixed beliefs regarding the effectiveness of infection control measures. Self-protection from acquiring multidrug-resistant organisms was a strong motivator for healthcare personnel both outside and inside the workplace, and it could explain variation in adherence to infection control measures such as a higher hand hygiene adherence after resident care than before resident care.