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To measure the effectiveness of an industrial systems-engineering approach to a methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) prevention program.
Before-after intervention study
An intensive care unit (ICU) and a surgical unit that was not an ICU in the Pittsburgh Veterans Administration hospital
Allpatientsadmittedtothe study units
We implemented an MRSA infection control program that consisted of the following 4 elements: (1) the use of standard precautions for all patient contact, with emphasis on hand hygiene; (2) the use of contact precautions for interactions with patients known to be infected or colonized with MRSA; (3) the use of active surveillance cultures to identify patients who were asymptomatically colonized with MRSA; and (4) use of an industrial systems-engineering approach, the Toyota Production System, to facilitate consistent and reliable adherence to the infection control program.
The rate of healthcare-associated MRSA infection in the surgical unit decreased from 1.56 infections per 1,000 patient-days in the 2 years before the intervention to 0.63 infections per 1,000 patient-days in the 4 years after the intervention (a 60% reduction; P = .003). The rate of healthcare-associated MRSA infection in the ICU decreased from 5.45 infections per 1,000 patient-days in the 2 years before to the intervention to 1.35 infections per 1,000 patient-days in the 3 years after the intervention (a 75% reduction; P = .001). The combined estimate for reduction in the incidence of infection after the intervention in the 2 units was 68% (95% confidence interval, 50%-79%; P < .001).
Sustained reduction in the incidence of MRSA infection is possible in a setting where this pathogen is endemic. An industrial systems-engineering approach can be adapted to facilitate consistent and reliable adherence to MRSA infection prevention practices in healthcare facilities.
To identify characteristics of encounters between healthcare workers (HCWs) and patients that correlated with hand hygiene adherence among HCWs.
Intensive care unit in a Veterans Affairs hospital.
There were 767 patient encounters observed (48.6% involved nurses, 20.6% involved physicians, and 30.8% involved other HCWs); 39.8% of encounters involved patients placed under contact precautions. HCW contact with either the patient or surfaces in the patient's environment occurred during all encounters; direct patient contact occurred during 439 encounters (57.4%), and contact with environmental surfaces occurred during 710 encounters (92.6%). The median duration of encounters was 2 minutes (range, <1 to 51 minutes); 33.6% of encounters lasted 1 minute or less, with no significant occupation-associated differences in the median duration of encounters. Adherence with hand hygiene practices was correlated with the duration of the encounter, with overall adherences of 30.0% after encounters of ≤1 minute, 43.4% after encounters of >1 to ≤2 minutes, 51.1% after encounters of >3 to ≤5 minutes, and 64.9% after encounters of >5 minutes (P < .001 by the x2 for trend). In multivariate analyses, longer encounter duration, contact precautions status, patient contact, and nursing occupation were independently associated with adherence to hand hygiene recommendations.
In this study, adherence to hand hygiene practices was lowest after brief patient encounters (ie, <2 minutes). Brief encounters accounted for a substantial proportion of all observed encounters, and opportunities for hand contamination occurred during all brief encounters. Therefore, improving adherence after brief encounters may have an important overall impact on the transmission of healthcare-associated pathogens and may deserve special emphasis in the design of programs to promote adherence to hand hygiene practices.
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