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To evaluate antibiotic prescribing behavior (APB) among physicians with various specialties in five Asian countries.
Survey of antibiotics prescribing behavior in three stages (initial, on-treatment, and de-escalation stages).
Participants included internists, infectious diseases (ID) specialists, hematologists, intensivists, and surgeons. Participants’ characteristics, patterns of APB, and perceptions of antimicrobial stewardship were collected. A multivariate analysis was conducted to evaluate factors associated with appropriate APB.
There were 367 participants. The survey response rate was 82.5% (367/445). For the initial stage, different specialties had different choices for empiric treatment. For the on-treatment stage, if the patient does not respond to empiric treatment, most respondents will step up to broader-spectrum antibiotics (273/367: 74.39%). For the de-escalation stage, the rate of de-escalation was 10%–60% depending on the specialty. Most respondents would de-escalate antibiotics based on guidelines (250/367: 68.12%). De-escalation was mostly reported by ID specialists (66/106: 62.26%). Respondents who reported that they performed laboratory investigations prior to empirical antibiotic prescriptions (aOR = 2.83) were associated with appropriate use, while respondents who reported ID consultation were associated with appropriate antibiotic management for infections not responding to empiric treatment (aOR = 40.87); adherence with national guidelines (aOR = 2.57) was associated with reported successful carbapenem de-escalation.
This study highlights the variation in practices and gaps in appropriate APB on three stages of antibiotic prescription among different specialties. Education on appropriate investigation, partnership with ID specialist, and availability and adherence with national guidelines are critical to help guide appropriate APB among different specialties.
We obtained 24 air samples in 8 general wards temporarily converted into negative-pressure wards admitting coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) patients infected with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) omicron variant BA.2.2 in Hong Kong. SARS-CoV-2 RNA was detected in 19 (79.2%) of 24 samples despite enhanced indoor air dilution. It is difficult to prevent airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in hospitals.
Air dispersal of respiratory viruses other than SARS-CoV-2 has not been systematically reported. The incidence and factors associated with air dispersal of respiratory viruses are largely unknown.
We performed air sampling by collecting 72,000 L of air over 6 hours for pediatric and adolescent patients infected with parainfluenza virus 3 (PIF3), respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), rhinovirus, and adenovirus. The patients were singly or 2-patient cohort isolated in airborne infection isolation rooms (AIIRs) from December 3, 2021, to January 26, 2022. The viral load in nasopharyngeal aspirates (NPA) and air samples were measured. Factors associated with air dispersal were investigated and analyzed.
Of 20 singly isolated patients with median age of 30 months (range, 3 months–15 years), 7 (35%) had air dispersal of the viruses compatible with their NPA results. These included 4 (40%) of 10 PIF3-infected patients, 2 (66%) of 3 RSV-infected patients, and 1 (50%) of 2 adenovirus-infected patients. The mean viral load in their room air sample was 1.58×103 copies/mL. Compared with 13 patients (65%) without air dispersal, these 7 patients had a significantly higher mean viral load in their NPA specimens (6.15×107 copies/mL vs 1.61×105 copies/mL; P < .001). Another 14 patients were placed in cohorts as 7 pairs infected with the same virus (PIF3, 2 pairs; RSV, 3 pairs; rhinovirus, 1 pair; and adenovirus, 1 pair) in double-bed AIIRs, all of which had air dispersal. The mean room air viral load in 2-patient cohorts was significantly higher than in rooms of singly isolated patients (1.02×104 copies/mL vs 1.58×103 copies/mL; P = .020).
Air dispersal of common respiratory viruses may have infection prevention and public health implications.
Nosocomial outbreaks leading to healthcare worker (HCW) infection and death have been increasingly reported during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
We implemented a strategy to reduce nosocomial acquisition.
We summarized our experience in implementing a multipronged infection control strategy in the first 300 days (December 31, 2019, to October 25, 2020) of the COVID-19 pandemic under the governance of Hospital Authority in Hong Kong.
Of 5,296 COVID-19 patients, 4,808 (90.8%) were diagnosed in the first pandemic wave (142 cases), second wave (896 cases), and third wave (3,770 cases) in Hong Kong. With the exception of 1 patient who died before admission, all COVID-19 patients were admitted to the public healthcare system for a total of 78,834 COVID-19 patient days. The median length of stay was 13 days (range, 1–128). Of 81,955 HCWs, 38 HCWs (0.05%; 2 doctors and 11 nurses and 25 nonprofessional staff) acquired COVID-19. With the exception of 5 of 38 HCWs (13.2%) infected by HCW-to-HCW transmission in the nonclinical settings, no HCW had documented transmission from COVID-19 patients in the hospitals. The incidence of COVID-19 among HCWs was significantly lower than that of our general population (0.46 per 1,000 HCWs vs 0.71 per 1,000 population; P = .008). The incidence of COVID-19 among professional staff was significantly lower than that of nonprofessional staff (0.30 vs 0.66 per 1,000 full-time equivalent; P = .022).
A hospital-based approach spared our healthcare service from being overloaded. With our multipronged infection control strategy, no nosocomial COVID-19 in was identified among HCWs in the first 300 days of the COVID-19 pandemic in Hong Kong.
This SHEA white paper identifies knowledge gaps and challenges in healthcare epidemiology research related to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) with a focus on core principles of healthcare epidemiology. These gaps, revealed during the worst phases of the COVID-19 pandemic, are described in 10 sections: epidemiology, outbreak investigation, surveillance, isolation precaution practices, personal protective equipment (PPE), environmental contamination and disinfection, drug and supply shortages, antimicrobial stewardship, healthcare personnel (HCP) occupational safety, and return to work policies. Each section highlights three critical healthcare epidemiology research questions with detailed description provided in supplementary materials. This research agenda calls for translational studies from laboratory-based basic science research to well-designed, large-scale studies and health outcomes research. Research gaps and challenges related to nursing homes and social disparities are included. Collaborations across various disciplines, expertise and across diverse geographic locations will be critical.
Extensive environmental contamination by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has been reported in hospitals during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. We report our experience with the practice of directly observed environmental disinfection (DOED) in a community isolation facility (CIF) and a community treatment facility (CTF) in Hong Kong.
The CIF, with 250 single-room bungalows in a holiday camp, opened on July 24, 2020, to receive step-down patients from hospitals. The CTF, with 500 beds in open cubicles inside a convention hall, was activated on August 1, 2020, to admit newly diagnosed COVID-19 patients from the community. Healthcare workers (HCWs) and cleaning staff received infection control training to reinforce donning and doffing of personal protective equipment and to understand the practice of DOED, in which the cleaning staff observed patient and staff activities and then performed environmental disinfection immediately thereafter. Supervisors also observed cleaning staff to ensure the quality of work. In the CTF, air and environmental samples were collected on days 7, 14, 21, and 28 for SARS-CoV-2 detection by RT-PCR. Patient compliance with mask wearing was also recorded.
Of 291 HCWs and 54 cleaning staff who managed 243 patients in the CIF and 674 patients in the CTF from July 24 to August 29, 2020, no one acquired COVID-19. All 24 air samples and 520 environmental samples collected in the patient area of the CTF were negative for SARS-CoV-2. Patient compliance with mask wearing was 100%.
With appropriate infection control measures, zero environmental contamination and nosocomial transmission of SARS-CoV-2 to HCWs and cleaning staff was achieved.
Background: Contaminated chlorhexidine produced by a single company has been implicated in the outbreak or pseudo-outbreak of Burkholderia cepacia complex (BCC). However, simultaneous occurrence of multiple brands of contaminated chlorhexidine supplied by different manufacturers resulting in a persistent outbreak for >1 year has not been well described. Objective: We report an outbreak of BCC with epidemiological investigation and using whole-genome sequencing (WGS) analysis of patient and environmental isolates in Hong Kong. Methods: Upon the investigation of a cohort of renal patients undergoing peritoneal dialysis colonized or infected with BCC in their exit sites, different brands of 0.05% aqueous chlorhexidine (aqCHX) used for exit site dressing, supplied from hospital or purchased from community pharmacies by patients, were cultured. A risk factor analysis for exit-site acquisition of BCC was performed. A site visit to a local manufacturer was conducted to investigate the process of production and to collect environmental samples for culture, which were further analyzed by WGS along with the BCC isolates cultured from patients and aqCHX purchased from community pharmacies. Results: Four patients undergoing peritoneal dialysis had cultures positive for BCC in the exit site swab in September 2019. A snapshot screening revealed 88 (32.0%) of 275 renal dialysis patients colonized with BCC. Of these patients, 47 (17.1%) were newly diagnosed and 41 (14.9%) were known to be colonized or infected with BCC according to retrospective data retrieval from January 1, 2018. A significantly greater proportion of patients with newly diagnosed BCC (cases) had used contaminated aqCHX for exit-site dressing than those with culture negative for BCC (controls): 38 of 47 (80.9%) versus 54 of 187 (28.9%) (P < .001). Of 161 aqCHX samples, 10 brands from 4 manufacturers (purchased from community pharmacies), 125 (77.6%) were culture positive for BCC, whereas all 77 aqCHX samples supplied by the hospital, which are different brands and are produced by different manufacturers, were proven to be sterile. Of the 28 environmental samples taken from a local manufacturer during the site visit, 19 samples (67.9%, 3 collected from the instrument for production of aqCHX and all 16 newly produced aqCHX samples) were culture positive for BCC. WGS revealed 3 major clusters characterized by B. cenocepacia genomovar IIIA ST1547 and 2 novel MLST clusters from 52 patients and 26 environmental isolates selected. Conclusions: This outbreak was terminated by product recall, and the government has decided to take regulatory actions to ensure the sterility of antiseptics, including aqCHX.
Universal masking for healthcare workers and patients in hospitals was adopted to combat coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), with compliance rates of 100% and 75.9%, respectively. Zero rates of nosocomial influenza A, influenza B, and respiratory syncytial virus infection were achieved from February to April 2020, which was significantly lower than the corresponding months in 2017–2019.
To understand hospital policies and practices as the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated, the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA) conducted a survey through the SHEA Research Network (SRN). The survey assessed policies and practices around the optimization of personal protection equipment (PPE), testing, healthcare personnel policies, visitors of COVID-19 patients in relation to procedures, and types of patients. Overall, 69 individual healthcare facilities responded in the United States and internationally, for a 73% response rate.
The role of severe respiratory coronavirus virus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)–laden aerosols in the transmission of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) remains uncertain. Discordant findings of SARS-CoV-2 RNA in air samples were noted in early reports.
Sampling of air close to 6 asymptomatic and symptomatic COVID-19 patients with and without surgical masks was performed with sampling devices using sterile gelatin filters. Frequently touched environmental surfaces near 21 patients were swabbed before daily environmental disinfection. The correlation between the viral loads of patients’ clinical samples and environmental samples was analyzed.
All air samples were negative for SARS-CoV-2 RNA in the 6 patients singly isolated inside airborne infection isolation rooms (AIIRs) with 12 air changes per hour. Of 377 environmental samples near 21 patients, 19 (5.0%) were positive by reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) assay, with a median viral load of 9.2 × 102 copies/mL (range, 1.1 × 102 to 9.4 × 104 copies/mL). The contamination rate was highest on patients’ mobile phones (6 of 77, 7.8%), followed by bed rails (4 of 74, 5.4%) and toilet door handles (4 of 76, 5.3%). We detected a significant correlation between viral load ranges in clinical samples and positivity rate of environmental samples (P < .001).
SARS-CoV-2 RNA was not detectable by air samplers, which suggests that the airborne route is not the predominant mode of transmission of SARS-CoV-2. Wearing a surgical mask, appropriate hand hygiene, and thorough environmental disinfection are sufficient infection control measures for COVID-19 patients isolated singly in AIIRs. However, this conclusion may not apply during aerosol-generating procedures or in cohort wards with large numbers of COVID-19 patients.
To determine the efficacy of 2 types of antimicrobial privacy curtains in clinical settings and the costs involved in replacing standard curtains with antimicrobial curtains.
A prospective, open-labeled, multicenter study with a follow-up duration of 6 months.
This study included 12 rooms of patients with multidrug-resistant organisms (MDROs) (668 patient bed days) and 10 cubicles (8,839 patient bed days) in the medical, surgical, neurosurgical, orthopedics, and rehabilitation units of 10 hospitals.
Culture samples were collected from curtain surfaces twice a week for 2 weeks, followed by weekly intervals.
With a median hanging time of 173 days, antimicrobial curtain B (quaternary ammonium chlorides [QAC] plus polyorganosiloxane) was highly effective in reducing the bioburden (colony-forming units/100 cm2, 1 vs 57; P < .001) compared with the standard curtain. The percentages of MDRO contamination were also significantly lower on antimicrobial curtain B than the standard curtain: methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, 0.5% vs 24% (P < .001); carbapenem-resistant Acinetobacter spp, 0.2% vs 22.1% (P < .001); multidrug-resistant Acinetobacter spp, 0% vs 13.2% (P < .001). Notably, the median time to first contamination by MDROs was 27.6 times longer for antimicrobial curtain B than for the standard curtain (138 days vs 5 days; P = .001).
Antimicrobial curtain B (QAC plus polyorganosiloxane) but not antimicrobial curtain A (built-in silver) effectively reduced the microbial burden and MDRO contamination compared with the standard curtain, even after extended use in an active clinical setting. The antimicrobial curtain provided an opportunity to avert indirect costs related to curtain changing and laundering in addition to improving patient safety.
A liver transplant recipient developed hospital-acquired symptomatic hepatitis C virus (HCV) genotype 6a infection 14 months post transplant.
Standard outbreak investigation.
Patient chart review, interviews of patients and staff, observational study of patient care practices, environmental surveillance, blood collection simulation experiments, and phylogenetic study of HCV strains using partial envelope gene sequences (E1–E2) of HCV genotype 6a strains from the suspected source patient, the environment, and the index patient were performed.
Investigations and data review revealed no further cases of HCV genotype 6a infection in the transplant unit. However, a suspected source with a high HCV load was identified. HCV genotype 6a was found in a contaminated reusable blood-collection tube holder with barely visible blood and was identified as the only shared item posing risk of transmission to the index case patient. Also, 14 episodes of sequential blood collection from the source patient and the index case patient were noted on the computerized time log of the laboratory barcoding system during their 13 days of cohospitalization in the liver transplant ward. Disinfection of the tube holders was not performed after use between patients. Blood collection simulation experiments showed that HCV and technetium isotope contaminating the tip of the sleeve capping the sleeved-needle can reflux back from the vacuum-specimen tube side to the patient side.
A reusable blood-collection tube holder without disinfection between patients can cause a nosocomial HCV infection. Single-use disposable tube holders should be used according to the recommendations by Occupational Safety and Health Administration and World Health Organization.
To determine the prevalence, risk factors, and molecular epidemiology of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) colonization at the time of admission to acute medical units and to develop a cost-effective screening strategy.
Nasal and groin screening cultures were performed for patients at admission to 15 acute medical units in all 7 catchment regions in Hong Kong. All MRSA isolates were subjected to spa typing.
The overall carriage rate of MRSA was 14.3% (95% confidence interval [CI], 13.5–15.1). MRSA history within the past 12 months (adjusted odds ratio [OR], 4.60 [95% CI, 3.28–6.44]), old age home residence (adjusted OR, 3.32 [95% CI, 2.78–3.98]), and bedbound state (adjusted OR, 2.19 [95% CI, 1.75–2.74]) were risk factors selected as MRSA screening criteria that provided reasonable sensitivity (67.4%) and specificity (81.8%), with an affordable burden (25.2%). spa typing showed that 89.5% (848/948) of the isolates were clustered into the 4 spa clonal complexes (CCs): spa CC1081, spa CC032, spa CC002, and spa CC4677. Patients colonized with MRSA spa types t1081 (OR, 1.77 [95% CI, 1.49–2.09]) and t4677 (OR, 3.09 [95% CI, 1.54–6.02]) were more likely to be old age home residents.
MRSA carriage at admission to acute medical units was prevalent in Hong Kong. Our results suggest that targeted screening is a pragmatic approach to increase the detection of the MRSA reservoir. Molecular typing suggests that old age homes are epicenters in amplifying the MRSA burden in acute hospitals. Enhancement of infection control measures in old age homes is important for the control of MRSA in hospitals.
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