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Impact of Electronic Surveillance on Isolation Practices

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 January 2015

Elaine Larson*
Columbia University School of Nursing, New York, New York
Maryam Behta
University of Pennsylvania Health System, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Bevin Cohen
Columbia University School of Nursing, New York, New York
Haomiao Jia
Columbia University School of Nursing, New York, New York
E. Yoko Furuya
Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, New York
Barbara Ross
NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, New York, New York
Rohit Chaudhry
Columbia University Department of Biomedical Informatics, New York, New York
David K. Vawdrey
Columbia University Department of Biomedical Informatics, New York, New York
Katherine Ellingson
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia
Columbia University School of Nursing, 630 West 168th Street, New York, NY 10032 (



To assess the impact of an electronic surveillance system on isolation practices and rates of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).


A pre-post test intervention.


Inpatient units (except psychiatry and labor and delivery) in 4 New York City hospitals.


All patients for whom isolation precautions were indicated, May 2009–December 2011.


Trained observers assessed isolation sign postings, availability of isolation carts, and staff use of personal protective equipment (PPE). Infection rates were obtained from the infection control department. Regression analyses were used to examine the association between the surveillance system, infection prevention practices, and MRSA infection rates.


A total of 54,159 isolation days and 7,628 staff opportunities for donning PPE were observed over a 31-month period. Odds of having an appropriate sign posted were significantly higher after intervention than before intervention (odds ratio [OR], 1.10 [95% confidence interval {CI}, 1.01–1.20]). Relative to baseline, postintervention sign posting improved significantly for airborne and droplet precautions but not for contact precautions. Sign posting improved for vancomycin-resistant enterococci (OR, 1.51 [95% CI, 1.23–1.86]; P = .0001), Clostridium difficile (OR, 1.59 [95% CI, 1.27–2.02]; P = .00005), and Acinetobacter baumannii (OR, 1.41 [95% CI, 1.21–1.64]; P = .00001) precautions but not for MRSA precautions (OR, 1.11 [95% CI, 0.89–1.39]; P = .36). Staff and visitor adherence to PPE remained low throughout the study but improved from 29.1% to 37.0% after the intervention (OR, 1.14 [95% CI, 1.01–1.29]). MRSA infection rates were not significantly different after the intervention.


An electronic surveillance system resulted in small but statistically significant improvements in isolation practices but no reductions in infection rates over the short term. Such innovations likely require considerable uptake time.

Original Article
Copyright © The Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America 2013

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