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Hospital-acquired Aspergillus rates among coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) patients were initially higher at a hospital with high negative-pressure room utilization compared to a similar hospital with low utilization but with otherwise identical infection control policies. After the index hospital decreased negative-pressure utilization, hospital-acquired Aspergillus case rates at the 2 hospitals converged.
Surveillance of non–ventilator-associated hospital-acquired pneumonia (NV-HAP) is complicated by subjectivity and variability in diagnosing pneumonia. We compared a fully automatable surveillance definition using routine electronic health record data to manual determinations of NV-HAP according to surveillance criteria and clinical diagnoses.
We retrospectively applied an electronic surveillance definition for NV-HAP to all adults admitted to Veterans’ Affairs (VA) hospitals from January 1, 2015, to November 30, 2020. We randomly selected 250 hospitalizations meeting NV-HAP surveillance criteria for independent review by 2 clinicians and calculated the percent of hospitalizations with (1) clinical deterioration, (2) CDC National Healthcare Safety Network (CDC-NHSN) criteria, (3) NV-HAP according to a reviewer, (4) NV-HAP according to a treating clinician, (5) pneumonia diagnosis in discharge summary; and (6) discharge diagnosis codes for HAP. We assessed interrater reliability by calculating simple agreement and the Cohen κ (kappa).
Among 3.1 million hospitalizations, 14,023 met NV-HAP electronic surveillance criteria. Among reviewed cases, 98% had a confirmed clinical deterioration; 67% met CDC-NHSN criteria; 71% had NV-HAP according to a reviewer; 60% had NV-HAP according to a treating clinician; 49% had a discharge summary diagnosis of pneumonia; and 82% had NV-HAP according to any definition according to at least 1 reviewer. Only 8% had diagnosis codes for HAP. Interrater agreement was 75% (κ = 0.50) for CDC-NHSN criteria and 78% (κ = 0.55) for reviewer diagnosis of NV-HAP.
Electronic NV-HAP surveillance criteria correlated moderately with existing manual surveillance criteria. Reviewer variability for all manual assessments was high. Electronic surveillance using clinical data may therefore allow for more consistent and efficient surveillance with similar accuracy compared to manual assessments or diagnosis codes.
To examine the impact of commonly used case definitions for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) hospitalizations on case counts and outcomes.
Design, patients, and setting:
Retrospective analysis of all adults hospitalized between March 1, 2020, and March 1, 2022, at 5 Massachusetts acute-care hospitals.
We applied 6 commonly used definitions of COVID-19 hospitalization: positive severe acute respiratory coronavirus virus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay within 14 days of admission, PCR plus dexamethasone administration, PCR plus remdesivir, PCR plus hypoxemia, institutional COVID-19 flag, or COVID-19 International Classification of Disease, Tenth Revision (ICD-10) codes. Outcomes included case counts and in-hospital mortality. Overall, 100 PCR-positive cases were reviewed to determine each definition’s accuracy for distinguishing primary or contributing versus incidental COVID-19 hospitalizations.
Of 306,387 hospital encounters, 15,436 (5.0%) met the PCR-based definition. COVID-19 hospitalization counts varied substantially between definitions: 4,628 (1.5% of all encounters) for PCR plus dexamethasone, 5,757 (1.9%) for PCR plus remdesivir, 11,801 (3.9%) for PCR plus hypoxemia, 15,673 (5.1%) for institutional flags, and 15,868 (5.2%) for ICD-10 codes. Definitions requiring dexamethasone, hypoxemia, or remdesivir selected sicker patients compared to PCR alone (mortality rates 12.2%, 10.7%, and 8.8% vs 8.3%, respectively). Definitions requiring PCR plus remdesivir or dexamethasone did not detect a reduction in in-hospital mortality associated with the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant. ICD-10 codes had the highest sensitivity (98.4%) but low specificity (39.5%) for distinguishing primary or contributing versus incidental COVID-19 hospitalizations. PCR plus dexamethasone had the highest specificity (92.1%) but low sensitivity (35.5%).
Commonly used definitions for COVID-19 hospitalizations generate variable case counts and outcomes and differentiate poorly between primary or contributing versus incidental COVID-19 hospitalizations. Surveillance definitions that better capture and delineate COVID-19–associated hospitalizations are needed.
The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic highlighted the lack of agreement regarding the definition of aerosol-generating procedures and potential risk to healthcare personnel. We convened a group of Massachusetts healthcare epidemiologists to develop consensus through expert opinion in an area where broader guidance was lacking at the time.
To determine change in rates of postoperative pneumonia and ventilator-associated pneumonia among patients hospitalized in the United States during 2009–2019.
Retrospective cohort study.
Patients hospitalized for major surgical procedures, acute myocardial infarction, heart failure, and pneumonia.
We conducted a retrospective review of data from the Medicare Patient Safety Monitoring System, a chart-abstraction–derived database including 21 adverse-event measures among patients hospitalized in the United States. Changes in observed and risk-adjusted rates of postoperative pneumonia and ventilator-associated pneumonia were derived.
Among 58,618 patients undergoing major surgical procedures between 2009 and 2019, the observed rate of postoperative pneumonia from 2009–2011 was 1.9% and decreased to 1.3% during 2017–2019. The adjusted annual risk each year, compared to the prior year, was 0.94 (95% CI, 0.92–0.96). Among 4,007 patients hospitalized for any of these 4 conditions at risk for ventilator-associated pneumonia during 2009–2019, we did not detect a significant change in observed or adjusted rates. Observed rates clustered around 10%, and adjusted annual risk compared to the prior year was 0.99 (95% CI, 0.95–1.02).
During 2009–2019, the rate of postoperative pneumonia decreased statistically and clinically significantly in among patients hospitalized for major surgical procedures in the United States, but rates of ventilator-associated pneumonia among patients hospitalized for major surgical procedures, acute myocardial infarction, heart failure, and pneumonia did not change.
To assess coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) infection policies at leading US medical centers in the context of the initial wave of the severe acute respiratory coronavirus virus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) omicron variant.
Electronic survey study eliciting hospital policies on masking, personal protective equipment, cohorting, airborne-infection isolation rooms (AIIRs), portable HEPA filters, and patient and employee testing.
Setting and participants:
“Hospital epidemiologists from U.S. News top 20 hospitals and 10 hospitals in the CDC Prevention Epicenters program.” As it is currently written, it implies all 30 hospitals are from the CDC Prevention Epicenters program, but that only applies to 10 hospitals. Alternatively, we could just say “Hospital epidemiologists from 30 leading US hospitals.”
Survey results were reported using descriptive statistics.
Of 30 hospital epidemiologists surveyed, 23 (77%) completed the survey between February 15 and March 3, 2022. Among the responding hospitals, 18 (78%) used medical masks for universal masking and 5 (22%) used N95 respirators. 16 hospitals (70%) required universal eye protection. 22 hospitals (96%) used N95s for routine COVID-19 care and 1 (4%) reserved N95s for aerosol-generating procedures. 2 responding hospitals (9%) utilized dedicated COVID-19 wards; 8 (35%) used mixed COVID-19 and non–COVID-19 units; and 13 (57%) used both dedicated and mixed units. 4 hospitals (17%) used AIIRs for all COVID-19 patients, 10 (43%) prioritized AIIRs for aerosol-generating procedures, 3 (13%) used alternate risk-stratification criteria (not based on aerosol-generating procedures), and 6 (26%) did not routinely use AIIRs. 9 hospitals (39%) did not use portable HEPA filters, but 14 (61%) used them for various indications, most commonly as substitutes for AIIRs when unavailable or for specific high-risk areas or situations. 21 hospitals (91%) tested asymptomatic patients on admission, but postadmission testing strategies and preferred specimen sites varied substantially. 5 hospitals (22%) required regular testing of unvaccinated employees and 1 hospital (4%) reported mandatory weekly testing even for vaccinated employees during the SARS-CoV-2 omicron surge.
COVID-19 infection control practices in leading hospitals vary substantially. Clearer public health guidance and transparency around hospital policies may facilitate more consistent national standards.
The purpose of this document is to highlight practical recommendations to assist acute care hospitals to prioritize and implement strategies to prevent ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP), ventilator-associated events (VAE), and non-ventilator hospital-acquired pneumonia (NV-HAP) in adults, children, and neonates. This document updates the Strategies to Prevent Ventilator-Associated Pneumonia in Acute Care Hospitals published in 2014. This expert guidance document is sponsored by the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology (SHEA), and is the product of a collaborative effort led by SHEA, the Infectious Diseases Society of America, the American Hospital Association, the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology, and The Joint Commission, with major contributions from representatives of a number of organizations and societies with content expertise.
Hospital-onset sepsis accounts for 10%–15% of all sepsis cases and is associated with very high mortality rates, yet to date most hospitals have paid little attention to tracking its incidence and outcomes. This contrasts sharply with the substantial effort that hospitals and regulatory agencies spend tracking and reporting a limited subset of healthcare-associated infections. The recent development of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s hospital-onset Adult Sepsis Event (ASE) definition, however, provides a validated and standardized mechanism for facilities to identify patients with nosocomial sepsis using routinely available electronic health record data. Recent data have demonstrated that hospital-onset ASE surveillance identifies many infections that are largely missed by current reportable healthcare-associated infections and that are associated with much higher mortality rates. Expanding the breadth of surveillance to include these highly consequential infections could help identify new targets for prevention and quality improvement and ultimately catalyze better outcomes for hospitalized patients. More work is needed, however, to characterize the preventability of hospital-onset ASE, develop and validate robust case-mix adjustment tools, and facilitate widespread uptake in hospitals with limited resources.
We interviewed 1,208 healthcare workers with positive SARS-CoV-2 tests between October 2020 and June 2021 to determine likely exposure sources. Overall, 689 (57.0%) had community exposures (479 from household members), 76 (6.3%) had hospital exposures (64 from other employees including 49 despite masking), 11 (0.9%) had community and hospital exposures, and 432 (35.8%) had no identifiable source of exposure.
To investigate the effectiveness of a daily attestation system used by employees of a multi-institutional academic medical center, which comprised of symptom-screening, self-referrals to the Occupational Health Services team, and/or a severe acute respiratory coronavirus virus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) test.
We conducted a retrospective cohort study of all employee attestations and SARS-CoV-2 tests performed between March and June 2020.
A large multi-institutional academic medical center, including both inpatient and ambulatory settings.
All employees who worked at the study site.
Data were combined from the attestation system (COVIDPass), the employee database, and the electronic health records and were analyzed using descriptive statistics including χ2, Wilcoxon, and Kruskal-Wallis tests. We investigated whether an association existed between symptomatic attestations by the employees and the employee testing positive for SARS-CoV-2.
After data linkage and cleaning, there were 2,117,298 attestations submitted by 65,422 employees between March and June 2020. Most attestations were asymptomatic (99.9%). The most commonly reported symptoms were sore throat (n = 910), runny nose (n = 637), and cough (n = 570). Among the 2,026 employees who ever attested that they were symptomatic, 905 employees were tested within 14 days of a symptomatic attestation, and 114 (13%) of these tests were positive. The most common symptoms associated with a positive SARS-CoV-2 test were anosmia (23% vs 4%) and fever (46% vs 19%).
Daily symptom attestations among healthcare workers identified a handful of employees with COVID-19. Although the number of positive tests was low, attestations may help keep unwell employees off campus to prevent transmissions.
Early administration of antibiotics in sepsis is associated with improved patient outcomes, but safe and generalizable approaches to de-escalate or discontinue antibiotics after suspected sepsis events are unknown.
We used a modified Delphi approach to identify safety criteria for an opt-out protocol to guide de-escalation or discontinuation of antibiotic therapy after 72 hours in non-ICU patients with suspected sepsis. An expert panel with expertise in antimicrobial stewardship and hospital epidemiology rated 48 unique criteria across 3 electronic survey rating tools. Criteria were rated primarily based on their impact on patient safety and feasibility for extraction from electronic health record review. The 48 unique criteria were rated by anonymous electronic survey tools, and the results were fed back to the expert panel participants. Consensus was achieved to either retain or remove each criterion.
After 3 rounds, 22 unique criteria remained as part of the opt-out safety checklist. These criteria included high-risk comorbidities, signs of severe illness, lack of cultures during sepsis work-up or antibiotic use prior to blood cultures, or ongoing signs and symptoms of infection.
The modified Delphi approach is a useful method to achieve expert-level consensus in the absence of evidence suifficient to provide validated guidance. The Delphi approach allowed for flexibility in development of an opt-out trial protocol for sepsis antibiotic de-escalation. The utility of this protocol should be evaluated in a randomized controlled trial.
Management of critically ill coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) patients has evolved considerably during the pandemic. We investigated rates and causes of ventilator-associated events (VAEs) in COVID-19 patients in the late versus early waves in 4 Massachusetts hospitals. VAE rates per episode decreased, rates per ventilator day were stable, and most cases were caused by acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).
We assessed the extent to which healthcare workers report more favorable hand hygiene rates when observing members of their own professional group versus other groups’ observations of them. Healthcare workers consistently reported higher compliance rates for their own group compared to others’ observations of them (97 vs 92%; P ≤ .001).
Group Name: CDC Prevention Epicenters Program Background: Reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests are the reference standard for diagnosing SARS-CoV-2 infection, but false positives can occur and viral RNA may persist for weeks-to-months following recovery. Isolating such patients increases pressure on limited hospital resources and may impede care. Therefore, we quantified the percentage of patients who tested positive by RT-PCR yet were unlikely to be infectious and could be released from isolation. Methods: We prospectively identified all adults hospitalized at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (Boston, MA) who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 by RT-PCR (primarily Hologic Panther Fusion or Cepheid Xpert platforms) between December 24, 2020, and January 24, 2021. Each case was assessed by infection control staff for possible discontinuation of isolation using an algorithm that incorporated the patient’s prior history of COVID-19, current symptoms, RT-PCR cycle threshold (Ct) values, repeat RT-PCR testing at least 24 hours later, and SARS-CoV-2 serologies (Figure 1). Results: Overall, 246 hospitalized patients (median age, 66 years [interquartile range, 50–74]; 131 [53.3%] male) tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 by RT-PCR during the study period. Of these, 201 (81.7%) were deemed new diagnoses of active disease on the basis of low Ct values and/or progressive symptoms. Moreover, 44 patients (17.9%) were deemed noninfectious: 35 (14.2%) had prior known resolved infections (n = 21) or unknown prior infection but positive serology (n = 14), high Ct values on initial testing, and negative or stably high Ct values on repeat testing. Also, 5 (2.0%) had recent infection but >10 days had passed since symptom onset and they were clinically improving. In addition, 4 (1.6%) results were deemed false positives based on lack of symptoms and at least 1 negative repeat RT-PCR test (Figure 2). One patient was asymptomatic with Ct value <35 but was discharged before further testing could be obtained. Among the 44 noninfectious patients, isolation was discontinued a median of 3 days (IQR, 2–4) after the first positive test. We did not identify any healthcare worker infections attributable to early discontinuation of isolation in these patients. Conclusions: During the winter COVID-19 second surge in Massachusetts, nearly 1 in 5 hospitalized patients who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 by RT-PCR were deemed noninfectious and eligible for discontinuation of precautions. Most of these cases were consistent with residual RNA from prior known or undiagnosed infections. Active assessments of SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR tests by infection control practitioners using clinical data, Ct values, repeat tests, and serologies can safely validate the release many patients from isolation and thereby conserve resources and facilitate patient care.
In 2020 a group of U.S. healthcare leaders formed the National Organization to Prevent Hospital-Acquired Pneumonia (NOHAP) to issue a call to action to address non–ventilator-associated hospital-acquired pneumonia (NVHAP). NVHAP is one of the most common and morbid healthcare-associated infections, but it is not tracked, reported, or actively prevented by most hospitals. This national call to action includes (1) launching a national healthcare conversation about NVHAP prevention; (2) adding NVHAP prevention measures to education for patients, healthcare professionals, and students; (3) challenging healthcare systems and insurers to implement and support NVHAP prevention; and (4) encouraging researchers to develop new strategies for NVHAP surveillance and prevention. The purpose of this document is to outline research needs to support the NVHAP call to action. Primary needs include the development of better models to estimate the economic cost of NVHAP, to elucidate the pathophysiology of NVHAP and identify the most promising pathways for prevention, to develop objective and efficient surveillance methods to track NVHAP, to rigorously test the impact of prevention strategies proposed to prevent NVHAP, and to identify the policy levers that will best engage hospitals in NVHAP surveillance and prevention. A joint task force developed this document including stakeholders from the Veterans’ Health Administration (VHA), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), The Joint Commission, the American Dental Association, the Patient Safety Movement Foundation, Oral Health Nursing Education and Practice (OHNEP), Teaching Oral-Systemic Health (TOSH), industry partners and academia.
Evidence from pandemics suggests that influenza is often associated with bacterial coinfection. Among patients hospitalized for influenza pneumonia, we report the rate of coinfection and distribution of pathogens, and we compare outcomes of patients with and without bacterial coinfection.
We included adults admitted with community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) and tested for influenza from 2010 to 2015 at 179 US hospitals participating in the Premier database. Pneumonia was identified using an International Classification of Disease, Ninth Revision, Clinical Modification (ICD-9-CM) algorithm. We used multiple logistic and gamma-generalized linear mixed models to assess the relationships between coinfection and inpatient mortality, intensive care unit (ICU) admission, length of stay, and cost.
Among 38,665 patients hospitalized with CAP and tested for influenza, 4,313 (11.2%) were positive. In the first 3 hospital days, patients with influenza were less likely than those without to have a positive culture (10.3% vs 16.2%; P < .001), and cultures were more likely to contain Staphylococcus aureus (34.2% vs 28.2%; P = .007) and less likely to contain Streptococcus pneumoniae (24.9% vs 31.0%; P = .008). Of S. aureus isolates, 42.8% were methicillin resistant among influenza patients versus 53.2% among those without influenza (P = .01). After hospital day 3, pathogens for both groups were similar. Bacterial coinfection was associated with increased odds of in-hospital mortality (aOR, 3.00; 95% CI, 2.17–4.16), late ICU transfer (aOR, 2.83; 95% CI, 1.98–4.04), and higher cost (risk-adjusted mean multiplier, 1.77; 95% CI, 1.59–1.96).
In a large US inpatient sample hospitalized with influenza and CAP, S. aureus was the most frequent cause of bacterial coinfection. Coinfection was associated with worse outcomes and higher costs.