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Objectives: Improper reprocessing of endoscopes may result in healthcare-associated infections. Regular microbiological surveillance is an important means of evaluating the quality of endoscope reprocessing. We evaluated the effectiveness of reprocessing endoscopes (including the protocols on steps to be taken in the event of any positive microbiological results) in a sterile supply unit (SSU) and an endoscopy unit in a Singapore tertiary-care academic hospital. Methods: Singapore General Hospital (SGH) is a 1,750-bed, tertiary-care, academic medical center in Singapore with 2 main SSUs: 1 inpatient endoscopy unit and 1 outpatient endoscopy unit. We reviewed microbiological surveillance results from endoscopes following reprocessing from January 2018 to December 2021. In total, 160 endoscopes (27 bronchoscopes, 58 gastroscopes, 52 colonoscopes, 6 duodenoscopes, 5 echoscopes, 5 cystoscopes, 5 rhinolaryngoscopes, and 5 enteroscopes) and 15 automated endoscope reprocessors (AERs) were evaluated for the presence of microorganisms. Samples were obtained by swabbing the tip of the scope and the biopsy channel. Fluid was flushed from the biopsy channel after reprocessing, and this water from the AERs was sampled after waterline disinfection. Results: Of the 15,783 samples collected, 15,667 (99.3%) yielded no growth; 36 (0.2%) were positive for gut and environmental flora; and 80 (0.5%) were positive for low-concern organisms such as skin flora. Conclusions: Microbiological surveillance yielded a high percentage of negative results confirming the effectiveness of endoscope reprocessing. This quality-assurance process is necessary and beneficial in achieving patient safety.
Objectives: The increase in carbapenemase-producing organism (CPO) transmission among hospitalized patients is a growing concern. Studies investigating the transmission of CPO to epidemiologically linked contacts are scarce. We conducted an interim subgroup analysis of the ongoing multicenter household transmission of CPO in Singapore (CaPES-C) study to identify the acquisition rate of CPO among epidemiologically linked contacts of hospitalized CPO patients. Methods: This multicenter prospective cohort study was conducted between January and December 2021. We recruited CPO-positive patients and their epidemiologically linked contacts. Stool samples were collected from the patients at baseline, day 3, day 7, and at weeks 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 12, 24, 36, and 48. Additionally, a sample was collected at the time of discharge from the hospital. Xpert Carba-R test was used to detect CPO genotypes in the stool samples. In this interim analysis, we calculated the acquisition rate of CPO among the epidemiologically linked hospital contacts of CPO positive patients using Stata version 15 software. Results: We recruited 22 (56.4%) CPO-positive index patients [blaNDM, n = 7 (31.8%); blaIMP, n = 3 (13.6%); blaOXA-48, n = 10 (45.5%), others, n = 2 (9.1%)] and 14 (35.9%) epidemiologically linked hospital contacts. The median age of CPO-positive patients was 72.5 years (IQR, 62–82) and 15 (68.2%) were female. The median age for the epidemiologically linked contacts was 82.5 years (IQR, 70–85) and 4 (28.6%) were female. After 1,082 patient days, 2 (14.3%) epidemiologically linked contacts tested positive for CPO giving an acquisition rate of 1.85 per 1,000 patient days (95% CI, 0.46 – 7.39). One of these participants acquired a concordant genotype (blaOXA-48) at day 7 and the other acquired a discordant genotype (CPO positive index, blaIMP; epidemiologically linked contact, blaNDM) at week 12 of follow-up. Conclusions: This small interim analysis revealed a high conversion rate among epidemiologically linked hospital contacts. A larger study is needed to understand the influence of genotypes, hospital environment, and human behavior on the transmission of CPO in hospitals.
Objectives: Ancillary staff members perform operational support functions and play an active role in enhancing the patient care experience. Infection prevention practices among ancillary staff play a critical role in preventing transmission of microorganisms, which ensures the safety of patients. Low hand hygiene compliance was found among porters in a cross-institutional hand hygiene audit in 2021. A quality improvement team was formed to improve hand hygiene compliance, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Methods: A focus-group discussion and survey were conducted to understand hand hygiene knowledge and challenges among porters. Using the findings, the team initiated Glo–germ education tools, pocket alcohol hand-rub agents, pocket moisturizer, poster display, and a toolbox messaging system via conversion of group roll call to satellite-area roll call. Respective satellite teams were sent hand hygiene reminders, and prompt corrective action was taken following noncompliance events. Analytic comparisons of pre- and postsurvey data were performed using the χ2 test, and P < .05 was regarded as statistically significant. Results: In total, 572 ancillary staff participated in the survey. Knowledge of hand hygiene practices improved significantly following the interventions, as shown in the comparison of pre- and postintervention results: knowledge of the hand hygiene steps (P < .001), knowledge of the duration of hand rub (P < .001), and knowledge of duration of handwashing (P < .001). Also, 295 staff members (97.68%) stated that implementation measures increased their awareness of the importance of hand hygiene. Moreover, the hand hygiene compliance rate improved from 77.8% to 100%. There were no significant differences related to sex (P = .089), age group (P = .355), years of working (P = .359), education level (P = .268), or difficulty in reading English (P = .906). Conclusions: Evaluating staff hand hygiene knowledge and understanding the challenges faced among porters helped toward the development of appropriate interventions and assurance of success in project.
Objectives: Following a cluster of COVID-19 cases in a Singapore public hospital in April 2021, the local health authority mandated the use of N95 respirators in all inpatient wards. This increased the demand for N95 mask fit-testing to ensure that healthcare workers were donning respirators that fit their facial characteristics and hence provided protection through a good facial seal. The demand for fit-testing during the pandemic highlighted the scarcity of manpower and ergonomics concern, such as carpel tunnel syndrome experienced in long hours of qualitative fit-testing sessions. We evaluated the operational efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and difference in passing rate after the introduction of the quantitative method. Methods: Conventional qualitative fit-testing was conducted using manual pumping of a challenge agent, enabling the user to determine the fit of the respirator. The quantitative fit-testing protocol used a condensation particle counter (CPC) to measure the concentration of particles inside the mask and the atmosphere to determine the fit of respirator. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)–approved minimum fit factor of 100 was used as the criterion for a successful N95 respirator fit. Tubes used during quantitative fit-testing were reprocessed using thermal disinfection. Results: Quantitative mask fit-testing provided an objective numerical measure to assess adequate fit of N95 respirator, which provided users with confidence in the respirator fit. It addressed a manpower limitation issue because it did not require qualified trainers to conduct the test, and automation also prevented any potential occupational hazard from repeated actions required in qualitative fit-testing. An increase in the passing rate for N95 fit-testing from 94.5% to 95.5% was observed. However, the high cost of equipment, annual recalibration, and consumables must be considered. Conclusions: Quantitative N95 fit-testing, when adopted with careful consideration of its cost, is an approach to consider for hospital-wide fit-testing.
Objectives:Streptococcus mitis is a gram-positive coccus and is a common commensal found in the throat, nasopharynx, and mouth. In an immunocompromised host, S. mitis opportunistically multiplies and can translocate to other sites. At baseline, the prevalence of S. mitis remained stable among hematological patients, averaging ~1 case monthly. However, in August–September 2020, 5 S. mitis cases were documented in a hematology ward and included overlapping inpatient stays. In this descriptive cluster report, we sought to identify the reasons for the increased prevalence of S. mitis in our institution. Methods: A literature review was undertaken to gain a better understanding of the bacteriology of S. mitis. Subsequently, geographical mapping was performed to identify epidemiological links. Further culture and sensitivity testing was requested. Hand hygiene compliance, environmental audit, and handling of central lines within the ward were examined for any lapses in practice. Results: Based on geographical mapping, no epidemiological linkages were established between patients; they were admitted to different rooms and did not share any equipment. Moreover, based on the antibiogram, different bacteria sensitivities were recorded across the isolates from these patients. A hand hygiene and environmental audit result showed 100% compliance. Nurses performed care of central lines in accordance with guidelines. However, an investigation of changes in practice revealed that the use of a toothbrush had only recently been permitted as part of streamlining oral care for hematology patients. Because toothbrushes were not provided by the hospital, patients were utilizing their personal toothbrushes with no direct supervision of their oral care regimen. Conclusions: The prevalence of S. mitis in hematological patients was likely due to the neutropenic condition of patients. This report provides valuable information supporting the optimization of oral hygiene in immunocompromised patients while minimizing the risk of opportunistic infections.
Background: Singapore General Hospital (SGH) is the largest acute tertiary-care hospital in Singapore. Healthcare workers (HCWs) are at risk of acquiring COVID-19 in both the community and workplaces. SGH has a robust exposure management process including prompt contact tracing, immediate ring fencing, lock down of affected cubicles or single room isolation for patient contacts, and home isolation orders for staff contacts of COVID-19 cases during the containment phase of the pandemic. Contacts were also placed on enhanced surveillance with PCR testing on days 1 and 4 as well as daily antigen rapid tests (ARTs) for 10 days after exposure. Here, we describe the characteristic of HCWs with COVID-19 during the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Methods: This retrospective observational study included all SGH HCWs who acquired COVID-19 during the third wave (ie, the 18-week period from September 1 to December 31, 2021) of the COVID-19 pandemic. Univariate analysis was used to compare characteristics of work-associated infection (WAI) and community-acquired infection (CAI) among HCWs. Results: Among a workforce of >10,000 at SGH, 335 HCWs acquired COVID-19 during study period. CAI (exposure to known clusters or household contact) accounted for 111 HCW infections (33.1%). Also, 48 HCWs (14.3%) had a WAI (ie, acquired at their work places where there was no patient contact). Among WAsI, only 5 HCWs had hospital-acquired infection (confirmed by phylogenetic analysis). The sources of exposure for the remaining 176 HCWs were unknown. Weekly incidence of COVID-19 among HCWs was comparable to the epidemiology curve of all cases in Singapore (Fig. 1 and 2). The mean age of HCWs with COVID-19 was 39.6 years, and most were women. At the time of positive SARS-CoV-2 PCR test, 223 HCWs were symptomatic, and 67 (20.0%) of them had comorbidities. Only 16 HCWs (4.8%) required hospitalization, and all recovered fully with no mortality (Table 1). Being female was associated with community COVID-19 acquisition (OR, 4.6, P Conclusions: During the thrid wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, a higher percentage of HCWs at SGH acquired the infection from the community than from the workplace. Safe management measures, such as universal masking, social distancing, and robust exposure management processes including prompt contact tracing and environmental disinfection, can reduce the risk of COVID-19 in the hospital work environment.
Background: In the last 2 years of the COVID-19 pandemic, Singapore has been forced to explore alternative sites to quarantine persons or manage infected cases during surge periods in a national effort not to overwhelm the public healthcare facilities. External quarantine facilities were created at the EXPO and further extended to D’Resort and other hotels in May 2020. Infection prevention (IP) practices were implemented at these external facilities, where training non–healthcare staff to quickly learn and understand these required practices has been challenging. A team of staff from different clinical disciplines was formed to manage the COVID-19 patients at these facilities. The Infection Prevention and Epidemiology (IPE) department was invited to train all staff, including the clinical team, management agency, and security staff, regarding IP measures. We have described the system and approach used in the rapid training of all staff in IP measures where the goal is zero transmission while providing care to COVID-19 patients. Methods: Training materials were developed to facilitate rapid learning by all staff; medical jargon was avoided. Curriculum included precautions to be taken while performing terminal cleaning of patient rooms, serving meals, disinfecting phones and thermometers, as well as donning and doffing personal protective equipment (PPE). “Green” and “red” zones were created to assist staff in remembering appropriate PPE to be used. PPE training was provided using slides and video. Posters were created as a guide for staff at donning and doffing stations. Additionally, the IPE training team utilized an online data collection tool to capture staff completion on IP training and PPE competency for record keeping. We used a ‘soft’ approach because staff members were fearful of the unknown when caring for COVID-19 patients. Daily audits were conducted with immediate concurrent feedback to engage the relevant stakeholders. Infection prevention liaison officers (IPLOs) were appointed to assist in the daily audits. An electronic audit tool was used to facilitate audit and quick analysis. Conclusions: The experience gained in the last 2 years has been useful and may provide a template if new external sites are needed in the future because of the potential surge associated with the ο (omicron) variant.
Sporadic clusters of healthcare-associated coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) occurred despite intense rostered routine surveillance and a highly vaccinated healthcare worker (HCW) population, during a community surge of the severe acute respiratory coronavirus virus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) B.1.617.2 δ (delta) variant. Genomic analysis facilitated timely cluster detection and uncovered additional linkages via HCWs moving between clinical areas and among HCWs sharing a common lunch area, enabling early intervention.
To describe OXA-48–like carbapenem-producing Enterobacteriaceae (CPE) outbreaks at Singapore General Hospital between 2018 and 2020 and to determine the risk associated with OXA-48 carriage in the 2020 outbreak.
Outbreak report and case–control study.
Singapore General Hospital (SGH) is a tertiary-care academic medical center in Singapore with 1,750 beds.
Active surveillance for CPE is conducted for selected high-risk patient cohorts through molecular testing on rectal swabs or stool samples. Patients with CPE are isolated or placed in cohorts under contact precautions. During outbreak investigations, rectal swabs are repeated for culture. For the 2020 outbreak, a retrospective case–control study was conducted in which controls were inpatients who tested negative for OXA-48 and were selected at a 1:3 case-to-control ratio.
Hospital wide, the median number of patients with healthcare-associated OXA-48 was 2 per month. In the 3-year period between 2018 and 2020, 3 OXA-48 outbreaks were investigated and managed, involving 4 patients with Klebsiella pneumoniae in 2018, 55 patients with K. pneumoniae or Escherichia coli in 2019, and 49 patients with multispecies Enterobacterales in 2020. During the 2020 outbreak, independent risk factors for OXA-48 carriage on multivariate analysis (49 patients and 147 controls) were diarrhea within the preceding 2 weeks (OR, 3.3; 95% CI, 1.1–10.7; P = .039), contact with an OXA-48–carrying patient (OR, 8.7; 95% CI, 1.9–39.3; P = .005), and exposure to carbapenems (OR, 17.2; 95% CI, 2.2–136; P = .007) or penicillin (OR, 16.6; 95% CI, 3.8–71.0; P < .001).
Multispecies OXA-48 outbreaks in our institution are likely related to a favorable ecological condition and selective pressure exerted by antimicrobial use. The integration of molecular surveillance epidemiology of the healthcare environment is important in understanding the risk of healthcare–associated infection to patients.
Background: The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic tests the healthcare system in many ways. The scarcity of resources poses challenges to infection prevention (IP) practices. We describe our experience in managing such scarcity in our care of COVID-19 patients in the hospital as well as community settings. Methods: The hospital pandemic plan traditionally included only plans for healthcare delivery management within the hospital. However, on March 25, 2020, a decision was made by the Ministry of Health to set up swab isolation (SIFs) and community care facilities (CCFs) to meet the growing demand for isolation beds for migrant workers infected by COVID-19. The CCFs were located in convention halls and resort centers and the SIFs were located in facilities previously functioning as hotels. Mobile medical teams were activated to run clinics at the dormitories housing 200,000 migrant workers. The IP team of an acute- and tertiary-care hospital in Singapore was activated to oversee IP measures at facilities managed by medical teams from the hospital, with the goal of zero healthcare-associated COVID-19 cases among staff. Two IP leaders were set up to oversee the IP program at 8 dormitories, 4 SIFs, and 2 CCFs. In total, 12 IP staff and 15 infection prevention liaison officers (IPLOs) were deployed from 2 acute-care hospitals and 3 specialty centers to conduct training in hand hygiene and the use of personal protective equipment, and to conduct daily audits of compliance to practice guidelines. Education on personal hygiene was also given to patients in these facilities in at least 7 languages. In the SIFs and dormitories, IPLOs were recruited to perform daily audits and feedback to the IP team on issues related to IP at the sites. Results: Since our first COVID-19 patient on January 23, 2020, there has been no report of healthcare-associated COVID-19 within the hospital nor among the medical, administrative, and support service staff working in the external operation facilities. Daily audits showed an average of 99.4% compliance to IP guidelines. Conclusions: IPLOs or IP champions play a significant role in ensuring compliance to IP guidelines. This compliance allows the IP professional to focus on the evaluation of the IP program, managing IP consultations, and planning and implementation of the IP program in nontraditional healthcare settings. The key success factors of the program included the ability to contextualize the planning and implementation of IP programs in various settings, strong leadership support, cohesive teamwork, and effective communication at various levels.
Background: The optimal prevention of healthcare onset Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) has been a challenging one in an acute tertiary-care hospital with limited number of single rooms. Asymptomatic patients with CDI are nursed in open wards but tagged with a green sticker to alert staff of their status. This signal prompts cleaning staff to use 5,000 ppm sodium hypochlorite to clean environmental surfaces in the multibed room and to continue with modified contact precautions. Methods: We conducted a survey on infection prevention measures used in the management of CDI patients over 2 weeks among senior nurse managers, clinicians, and registered nurses in 38 inpatient wards. We categorized the survey results into 4 types of practices: established practices, nonestablished practices (easy implementation), nonestablished practices (lack of resources), and nonestablished practices (staff resistance). We then identified barriers to determine reasons for resistance to nonestablished practices before the implementation of the CDI bundle in May 2019. The bundle comprised the following components: contact precautions, antimicrobial stewardship, isolation of CDI patient with diarrhea in single room, environment, and equipment hygiene. Following the survey, we enhanced the signage for CDI patients to be more obvious. Monthly, we monitored the incidence of HO-Clostridium difficile to assess effectiveness of implementation measures. Results: Nonestablished practices (easy implementation) included uncertainty of diarrhea definition and the recommended environmental hygiene disinfectant, lack of understanding of the importance of complying to personal protective equipment (PPE), and inconsistency in conveying CDI status. Among nonestablished practices (lack of resources), shortage of isolation beds for CDI patients with diarrhea and unavailability of electronic alert system for CDI patients within the institution are the major issues faced by clinical staff. Unavailability of CDI indicator stickers, contact precaution posters, and sporicidal wipes were noted in 6 medical and surgical wards. Nonestablished practices (staff resistance) were related to the time taken to don full PPE and reluctance to arrange for an isolation bed due to increased workload and unavailability of isolation beds. A shift was noted in the control chart for HO-Clostridium difficile after the implementation of the CDI bundle in May 2019. Conclusions: The categorization of practices into established and nonestablished practices can help to identify barriers that may interfere with successful implementation of an infection prevention bundle.
Background: Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) colonization conveys a higher risk of invasive infection. The transplant cohort is a group of immunocompromised patients who are at higher risk of infection. We conducted an outbreak investigation of hospital-acquired MRSA colonization within the transplant unit, which led to the discovery of positive isolates within our environment and to changes in our hospital disinfection policies. Methods: Our transplant unit consists of 8 single, positive-pressure rooms housed separately at the side of a larger ward. Staffing from this unit differs from the rest of the shared ward that houses up to 60 patients. As part of hospital screening, we found that a patient admitted for a stem-cell transplant had acquired nosocomial MRSA colonization. Given the unusual occurrence of such an event, a root-cause analysis was conducted. Results: A meeting was convened together with nursing, medical staff, and ancillary staff. Identified areas of potential transmission were deemed equipment, staff, and patients, and screening was performed. Shared equipment included the portable electrocardiogram (ECG) machines and portable x-ray machines and boards. In particular, ECG machines were shared with the adjoining nontransplant oncology ward. The usual practice was to clean the machine after use but not prior to the next use. This was deemed a possible exposure risk in view of a recent MRSA outbreak in a separate section of the ward. Positive isolates were found on both the x-ray and ECG machines. All healthcare workers were screened and were negative for MRSA. Furthermore, 7 patients admitted during the same time period were also screened for MRSA and were negative. Given the concurrent outbreak within the ward, pulsed-field gel electrophoresis was performed for all MRSA isolates obtained and the outbreak strain. These were found to be nonclonal (Table 1). Work processes for both the cleaning of ECG and x-ray machines were enhanced and modified. Hand hygiene measures to ward and radiology staff were reinforced. Thus far, no further cases have been detected. Conclusions: The environment is an important part of outbreak investigation. Shared equipment is often overlooked during day to day processes but should not be neglected. This can result in changes to hospital disinfection policy.
Disclosures: Indumathi Venkatachalam reports receiving honoraria for speaking engagements for bioMérieux and Pfizer and serving on an expert panel for MSD Pharma.
Staff surveillance is crucial during the containment phase of a pandemic to help reduce potential healthcare-associated transmission and sustain good staff morale. During an outbreak of SARS-COV-2 with community transmission, our institution used an integrated strategy for early detection and containment of COVID-19 cases among healthcare workers (HCWs).
Our strategy comprised 3 key components: (1) enforcing reporting of HCWs with acute respiratory illness (ARI) to our institution’s staff clinic for monitoring; (2) conducting ongoing syndromic surveillance to obtain early warning of potential clusters of COVID-19; and (3) outbreak investigation and management.
Over a 16-week surveillance period, we detected 14 cases of COVID-19 among HCWs with ARI symptoms. Two of the cases were linked epidemiologically and thus constituted a COVID-19 cluster with intrahospital HCW–HCW transmission; we also detected 1 family cluster and 2 clusters among HCWs who shared accommodation. No transmission to HCWs or patients was detected after containment measures were instituted. Early detection minimized the number of HCWs requiring quarantine, hence preserving continuity of service during an ongoing pandemic.
An integrated surveillance strategy, outbreak management, and encouraging individual responsibility were successful in early detection of clusters of COVID-19 among HCWs. With ongoing local transmission, vigilance must be maintained for intrahospital spread in nonclinical areas where social mingling of HCWs occurs. Because most individuals with COVID-19 have mild symptoms, addressing presenteeism is crucial to minimize potential staff and patient exposure.
Prevalence of multidrug-resistant (MDR) gram-negative (GN) bacteria is increasing globally and is complicated by patient movement between acute and long-term care facilities (LTCFs). In Asia, the contribution of LTCFs as a source of MDR GN infections is poorly described. We aimed to define the association between residence in LTCFs and MDR GN bloodstream infections (BSIs).
Secondary analysis of data from an observational cohort.
Two tertiary referral hospitals in Singapore, including the 1,400-bed Tan Tock Seng Hospital and the 1,600-bed Singapore General Hospital.
Adult patients with healthcare-onset (HCO) or hospital-onset (HO) GN BSI.
Patients were identified from hospital databases using standard definitions. Risk factors for both MDR GN HCO and HO BSI were analyzed using a multivariable logistic regression model.
A total of 675 episodes of GN BSI occurred over a 31-month period. Residence in a LTCF was an independent risk factor for developing MDR GN BSI (odds ratio [OR], 5.1 [95% confidence interval (CI), 2.2–11.9]; P < .01) when antibiotics were not used within the preceding 30 days. This risk persisted beyond the first 48 hours of hospitalization (OR, 3.4 [95% CI, 1.3–9.0]; P = .01). Previous culture growing an MDR organism (OR, 1.8 [95% CI, 1.3–2.7]; P < .01), previous antibiotic use (OR, 1.8 [95% CI, 1.2–2.6]; P < .01), and intensive care unit stay (OR, 2.2 [95% CI, 1.2–3.9]; P = .01), increased the risk of MDR GN BSI.
Residence in a LTCF is an independent risk factor for MDR GN BSI. Attempts to contain MDR GN bacteria in large Asian cities, where the proportion of the population that is elderly is projected to increase, should include infection prevention strategies that engage LTCFs.
We report the first outbreak of vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecium colonization and infection among inpatients in the hematology ward of an acute tertiary care public hospital in Singapore. Two cases of bacteremia and 4 cases of gastrointestinal carriage were uncovered before implementation of strict infection control measures resulted in control of the outbreak.
An outbreak of a multiresistant Acinetobacter baumannii in February through September 1996 affected 103 patients in a regional hospital in Singapore. We describe the effectiveness of closure of the outbreak area and the importance of good teamwork in the management of the outbreak.
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