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The transfer of pathogens may spread antimicrobial resistance and lead to healthcare-acquired infections. We performed a systematic literature review to generate estimates of pathogen transfer in relation to healthcare provider (HCP) activities.
For this systematic review and meta-analysis, Medline/Ovid, EMBASE, and the Cochrane Library were searched for studies published before July 7, 2017. We reviewed the literature, examining transfer of pathogens associated with HCP activities. We included studies that (1) quantified transfer of pathogens from a defined origin to a defined destination surface; (2) reported a microbiological sampling technique; and (3) described the associated activity leading to transfer. For studies reporting transfer frequencies, we extracted data and calculated the estimated proportion using Freeman-Tukey double arcsine transformation and the DerSimonian-Laird random-effects model.
Of 13,121 identified articles, 32 were included. Most articles (n=27, 84%) examined transfer from patients and their environment to HCP hands, gloves, and gowns, with an estimated proportion for transfer frequency of 33% (95% confidence interval [CI], 12%–57%), 30% (95% CI, 23%–38%) and 10% (95% CI, 6%–14%), respectively. Other articles addressed transfer involving the hospital environment and medical devices. Risk factor analyses in 12 studies suggested higher transfer frequencies after contact with moist body sites (n=7), longer duration of care (n=5), and care of patients with an invasive device (n=3).
Recognizing the heterogeneity in study designs, the available evidence suggests that pathogen transfer to HCPs occurs frequently. More systematic research is urgently warranted to support targeted and economic prevention policies and interventions.
To elicit expert consensus on the likelihood of infectious outcomes (patient colonization or infection) following a broad range of infectious risk moments (IRMs) from observations in acute care.
Expert consensus study using modified Delphi technique.
Panel of 40 international experts including nurses, physicians and microbiologists specialized in infectious diseases and infection prevention and control (IPC).
The modified Delphi process consisted of 3 online survey rounds, with feedback of mean ratings and expert comments between rounds. The Delphi survey comprised 52 care scenarios representing observed IRMs organized into 6 sections: hands, gloves, medical devices, mobile objects, invasive procedures, and additional moments. For each scenario, experts indicated the likelihood of both patient colonization and infection on a scale from 0 to 5 (high). Expert ratings were plotted against frequencies of IRMs observed during actual patient care resulting in a risk index.
Following 3 rounds, consensus was achieved for 92 of 104 items (88.5%). The mean ratings across all scenarios for likelihood of colonization and infection were 2.68 and 2.02, respectively. The likelihood of colonization was rated higher than infection for 48 of 52 scenarios. Ratings were significantly higher for colonization (P=.001) and infection (P<.0005) when the scenario involved transfer of pathogens to critical patient sites.
The design of effective IPC strategies requires the selection of behaviors according to their impact on patient outcomes. The IRM index reported here provides a basis for standardizing and prioritizing targets for quality improvement initiatives, training, and future research in acute health care.
In this study, we sought to establish a comprehensive inventory of infectious risk moments (IRMs), defined as seemingly innocuous yet frequently occurring care manipulations potentially resulting in transfer of pathogens to patients. We also aimed to develop and employ an observational taxonomy to quantify the frequency and nature of IRMs in acute-care settings.
Prospective observational study and establishment of observational taxonomy.
Intensive care unit, general medical ward, and emergency ward of a university-affiliated hospital.
Healthcare workers (HCWs)
Exploratory observations were conducted to identify IRMs, which were coded based on the surfaces involved in the transmission pathway to establish a structured taxonomy. Structured observations were performed using this taxonomy to quantify IRMs in all 3 settings.
Following 129.17 hours of exploratory observations, identified IRMs involved HCW hands, gloves, care devices, mobile objects, and HCW clothing and accessories. A structured taxonomy called INFORM (INFectiOus Risk Moment) was established to classify each IRM according to the source, vector, and endpoint of potential pathogen transfer. We observed 1,138 IRMs during 53.77 hours of structured observations (31.25 active care hours) for an average foundation of 42.8 IRMs per active care hour overall, and average densities of 34.9, 36.8, and 56.3 IRMs in the intensive care, medical, and emergency wards, respectively.
Hands and gloves remain among the most important contributors to the transfer of pathogens within the healthcare setting, but medical devices, mobile objects, invasive devices, and HCW clothing and accessories may also contribute to patient colonization and/or infection. The INFORM observational taxonomy and IRM inventory presented may benefit clinical risk assessment, training and education, and future research.
Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol 2018;39:272–279
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