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To improve contact tracing for healthcare workers, we built and configured a Bluetooth low-energy system. We predicted close contacts with great accuracy and provided an additional contact yield of 14.8%. This system would decrease the effective reproduction number by 56% and would unnecessarily quarantine 0.74% of employees weekly.
Since the initial publication of A Compendium of Strategies to Prevent Healthcare-Associated Infections in Acute Care Hospitals in 2008, the prevention of healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) has continued to be a national priority. Progress in healthcare epidemiology, infection prevention, antimicrobial stewardship, and implementation science research has led to improvements in our understanding of effective strategies for HAI prevention. Despite these advances, HAIs continue to affect ∼1 of every 31 hospitalized patients,1 leading to substantial morbidity, mortality, and excess healthcare expenditures,1 and persistent gaps remain between what is recommended and what is practiced.
The widespread impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic on HAI outcomes2 in acute-care hospitals has further highlighted the essential role of infection prevention programs and the critical importance of prioritizing efforts that can be sustained even in the face of resource requirements from COVID-19 and future infectious diseases crises.3
The Compendium: 2022 Updates document provides acute-care hospitals with up-to-date, practical expert guidance to assist in prioritizing and implementing HAI prevention efforts. It is the product of a highly collaborative effort led by the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA), the Infectious Disease Society of America (IDSA), the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC), the American Hospital Association (AHA), and The Joint Commission, with major contributions from representatives of organizations and societies with content expertise, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Pediatric Infectious Disease Society (PIDS), the Society for Critical Care Medicine (SCCM), the Society for Hospital Medicine (SHM), the Surgical Infection Society (SIS), and others.
Background: Healthcare personnel (HCP) working in non–acute-care facilities are at high risk of COVID-19. We sought to determine SARS-CoV-2 seroprevalence, and analyzed behaviors and activities related to COVID-19 acquisition in this cohort. Methods: Between May and June 2021, HCP were enrolled at a skilled nursing facility and a memory care facility in St. Louis, Missouri. Data regarding demographics, prior SARS-CoV-2 testing, symptoms consistent with COVID-19 in the previous 6 months, COVID-19 vaccination, personal protective equipment (PPE) use, and COVID-19 exposures were collected via survey. Blood specimens were obtained to determine SARS-CoV-2 nucleocapsid IgG antibody seroprevalence (Abbott Laboratories). Study protocol was approved by the Washington University Institutional Review Board. Results: The survey was completed by 74 HCP. 82% of participants were female, and 31% reported >10 years of healthcare experience. The overall SARS-CoV-2 seropositivity rate was 8.9% (5 HCP). Of the surveyed HCP, 50% reported symptoms concerning for COVID-19 in the prior 6 months. Headache (38%), fatigue (35%) and fever (27%) were the most common self-reported symptoms. Among symptomatic HCP, only 35% sought medical care for these symptoms. All HCP reported having taken at least 1 COVID-19 test prior to study enrollment. Of note, 18.9% (14 HCP) had a self-reported prior positive SARS-CoV-2 PCR test, of whom 9 HCP were seronegative. All seronegative HCP with a self-reported history of COVID-19 reported infection >3 months before study participation. Completion of a primary COVID-19 vaccination series was reported by 86% of HCP. Known exposure to COVID-19 at work was reported by 28% of HCP. When asked about PPE at the time of workplace exposure, N95 mask use was reported by 81%, gloves by 57%, gowns by 33%, face shields by 29% and surgical masks by 14%. Known specific exposure to COVID-19 outside work was reported by 31% of HCP. Conclusions: One year after the initial COVID-19 pandemic impacted the St. Louis region, HCP at non–acute-care facilities had a SARS-CoV-2 seroprevalence of 8.9%. Similar frequency of exposures were reported from both the workplace and community, with high rates of PPE use at the workplace. HCP in such settings remain at high risk of COVID-19 exposure from workplace and community exposures. Ongoing efforts are needed to maintain PPE use to prevent SARS-CoV-2 transmission within non–acute-care facilities, and continue access to timely COVID-19 screening for HCP.
To determine the prevalence of severe acute respiratory coronavirus virus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) IgG nucleocapsid (N) antibodies among healthcare personnel (HCP) with no prior history of COVID-19 and to identify factors associated with seropositivity.
Prospective cohort study.
An academic, tertiary-care hospital in St. Louis, Missouri.
The study included 400 HCP aged ≥18 years who potentially worked with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) patients and had no known history of COVID-19; 309 of these HCP also completed a follow-up visit 70–160 days after enrollment. Enrollment visits took place between September and December 2020. Follow-up visits took place between December 2020 and April 2021.
At each study visit, participants underwent SARS-CoV-2 IgG N-antibody testing using the Abbott SARS-CoV-2 IgG assay and completed a survey providing information about demographics, job characteristics, comorbidities, symptoms, and potential SARS-CoV-2 exposures.
Participants were predominately women (64%) and white (79%), with median age of 34.5 years (interquartile range [IQR], 30–45). Among the 400 HCP, 18 (4.5%) were seropositive for IgG N-antibodies at enrollment. Also, 34 (11.0%) of 309 were seropositive at follow-up. HCP who reported having a household contact with COVID-19 had greater likelihood of seropositivity at both enrollment and at follow-up.
In this cohort of HCP during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, ∼1 in 20 had serological evidence of prior, undocumented SARS-CoV-2 infection at enrollment. Having a household contact with COVID-19 was associated with seropositivity.
To characterize experiences, beliefs, and perceptions of risk related to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), infection prevention practices, and COVID-19 vaccination among healthcare personnel (HCP) at nonacute care facilities.
Three non–acute-care facilities in St. Louis, Missouri.
In total, 156 HCP responded to the survey, for a 25.6% participation rate). Among them, 32% had direct patient-care roles.
Anonymous surveys were distributed between April-May 2021. Data were collected on demographics, work experience, COVID-19 exposure, knowledge, and beliefs about infection prevention, personal protective equipment (PPE) use, COVID-19 vaccination, and the impact of COVID-19.
Nearly all respondents reported adequate knowledge of how to protect oneself from COVID-19 at work (97%) and had access to adequate PPE supplies (95%). Many HCP reported that wearing a mask or face shield made communication difficult (59%), that they had taken on additional responsibilities due to staff shortages (56%), and that their job became more stressful because of COVID-19 (53%). Moreover, 28% had considered quitting their job. Most respondents (78%) had received at least 1 dose of COVID-19 vaccine. Common reasons for vaccination were a desire to protect family and friends (84%) and a desire to stop the spread of COVID-19 (82%). Potential side effects and/or inadequate vaccine testing were cited as the most common concerns by unvaccinated HCP.
A significant proportion of HCP reported increased stress and responsibilities at work due to COVID-19. The majority were vaccinated. Improving workplace policies related to mental health resources and sick leave, maintaining access to PPE, and ensuring clear communication of PPE requirements may improve workplace stress and burnout.
Hospitals are increasingly consolidating into health systems. Some systems have appointed healthcare epidemiologists to lead system-level infection prevention programs. Ideal program infrastructure and support resources have not been described. We informally surveyed 7 healthcare epidemiologists with recent experience building and leading system-level infection prevention programs. Key facilitators and barriers for program structure and implementation are described.
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccine effectiveness in the early months of vaccine availability was high among healthcare personnel (HCP) at 88.3% for 2-doses. Among those testing positive for severe acute respiratory coronavirus virus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), those with breakthrough infection after vaccination were more likely to have had a non–work-related SARS-CoV-2 exposure compared to unvaccinated HCP.
To identify characteristics associated with positive severe acute respiratory coronavirus virus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests in healthcare personnel.
Retrospective cohort study.
A multihospital healthcare system.
Employees who reported SARS-CoV-2 exposures and/or symptoms of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) between March 30, 2020, and September 20, 2020, and were subsequently referred for SARS-CoV-2 PCR testing.
Data from exposure and/or symptom reports were linked to the corresponding SARS-CoV-2 PCR test result. Employee demographic characteristics, occupational characteristics, SARS-CoV-2 exposure history, and symptoms were evaluated as potential risk factors for having a positive SARS-CoV-2 PCR test.
Among 6,289 employees who received SARS-CoV-2 PCR testing, 873 (14%) had a positive test. Independent risk factors for a positive PCR included: working in a patient care area (relative risk [RR], 1.82; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.37–2.40), having a known SARS-CoV-2 exposure (RR, 1.20; 95% CI, 1.04–1.37), reporting a community versus an occupational exposure (RR, 1.87; 95% CI, 1.49–2.34), and having an infected household contact (RR, 2.47; 95% CI, 2.11–2.89). Nearly all HCP (99%) reported symptoms. Symptoms associated with a positive PCR in a multivariable analysis included loss of sense of smell (RR, 2.60; 95% CI, 2.09–3.24) or taste (RR, 1.75; 95% CI, 1.40–2.20), cough (RR, 1.95; 95% CI, 1.40–2.20), fever, and muscle aches.
In this cohort of >6,000 healthcare system and academic medical center employees early in the pandemic, community exposures, and particularly household exposures, were associated with greater risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection than occupational exposures. This work highlights the importance of COVID-19 prevention in the community and in healthcare settings to prevent COVID-19.
In a prospective cohort of healthcare personnel (HCP), we measured severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus virus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) nucleocapsid IgG antibodies after SARS-CoV-2 infection. Among 79 HCP, 68 (86%) were seropositive 14–28 days after their positive PCR test, and 54 (77%) of 70 were seropositive at the 70–180-day follow-up. Many seropositive HCP (95%) experienced an antibody decline by the second visit.
To determine the impact of various aerosol mitigation interventions and to establish duration of aerosol persistence in a variety of dental clinic configurations.
We performed aerosol measurement studies in endodontic, orthodontic, periodontic, pediatric, and general dentistry clinics. We used an optical aerosol spectrometer and wearable particulate matter sensors to measure real-time aerosol concentration from the vantage point of the dentist during routine care in a variety of clinic configurations (eg, open bay, single room, partitioned operatories). We compared the impact of aerosol mitigation strategies (eg, ventilation and high-volume evacuation (HVE), and prevalence of particulate matter) in the dental clinic environment before, during, and after high-speed drilling, slow–speed drilling, and ultrasonic scaling procedures.
Conical and ISOVAC HVE were superior to standard-tip evacuation for aerosol-generating procedures. When aerosols were detected in the environment, they were rapidly dispersed within minutes of completing the aerosol-generating procedure. Few aerosols were detected in dental clinics, regardless of configuration, when conical and ISOVAC HVE were used.
Dentists should consider using conical or ISOVAC HVE rather than standard-tip evacuators to reduce aerosols generated during routine clinical practice. Furthermore, when such effective aerosol mitigation strategies are employed, dentists need not leave dental chairs fallow between patients because aerosols are rapidly dispersed.
Although a growing number of healthcare facilities are implementing healthcare personnel (HCP) coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccination requirements, vaccine exemption request management as a part of such programs is not well described.
Infectious disease (ID) physician members of the Emerging Infections Network with infection prevention or hospital epidemiology responsibilities.
Eligible persons were sent a web-based survey focused on hospital plans and practices around exemption allowances from HCP COVID-19 vaccine requirements.
Of the 695 ID physicians surveyed, 263 (38%) responded. Overall, 160 respondent institutions (92%) allowed medical exemptions, whereas 132 (76%) allowed religious exemptions. In contrast, only 14% (n = 24) allowed deeply held personal belief exemptions. The types of medical exemptions allowed varied considerably across facilities, with allergic reactions to the vaccine or its components accepted by 145 facilities (84%). For selected scenarios commonly used as the basis for religious and deeply held personal belief exemption requests, 144 institutions (83%) would not approve exemptions focused on concerns regarding right of consent or violations of freedom of personal choice, and 140 institutions (81%) would not approve exemptions focused on introducing foreign substances into one’s body or the sanctity of the body. Most respondents noted plans for additional infection prevention interventions for HCP who received an exemption for COVID-19 vaccination.
Although many respondent institutions allowed exemptions from HCP COVID-19 vaccination requirements, the types of exemptions allowed and how the exemption programs were structured varied widely.
Background: Evidence-based hospital antimicrobial stewardship interventions, such as postprescription review with feedback, prior authorization, and handshake stewardship, involve communication between stewards and frontline prescribers. Hierarchy, asymmetric responsibility, prescribing etiquette, and autonomy can obstruct high-quality communication in stewardship. Little is known about the strategies that stewards use to overcome these barriers. The objective of this study was to identify how stewards navigate communication challenges when interacting with prescribers. Methods: We conducted semistructured interviews with antimicrobial stewards recruited from hospitals across the United States. Interviews were audio recorded, transcribed, and analyzed using a flexible coding approach and the framework method. Social identity theory and role theory were used to interpret framework matrices. Results: Interviews were conducted with 58 antimicrobial stewards (25 physicians and 33 pharmacists) from 10 hospitals (4 academic medical centers, 4 community hospitals, and 2 children’s hospitals). Respondents who felt empowered in their interactions with prescribers explicitly adopted a social identity that conceptualized stewards and prescribers as being on the “same team” with shared goals (in-group orientation). Drawing on the meaning conferred via this social role identity, respondents engaged in communication strategies to build and maintain common bonds with prescribers. These strategies included moderating language to minimize defensive recommendations when delivering stewardship recommendations, aligning the goals of stewardship with the goals of the clinical team, communicating with prescribers about things other than stewardship, compromising for the sake of future interactions, and engaging in strategic face-to-face interaction. Respondents who felt less empowered in their interactions thought of themselves as outsiders to the clinical team and experienced a heightened sense of “us versus them” mentality with the perception that stewards primarily serve a gate-keeping function (ie, outgroup orientation). These respondents expressed deference to hierarchy, a reluctance to engage in face-to-face interaction, a feeling of cynicism about the impact of stewardship, and a sense of low professional accomplishment within the role. Respondents who exhibited an in-group orientation were more likely than those who did not to describe the positive impact of stewardship mentors or colleagues on their social role identity. Conclusions: The way antimicrobial stewards perceive their role and identity within the social context of their healthcare organization influences how they approach communication with prescribers. Social role identity in stewardship is shaped by the influence of mentors and colleagues, indicating the importance of supportive relationships for the development of steward skill and confidence.
The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccine may hold the key to ending the pandemic, but vaccine hesitancy is hindering the vaccination of healthcare personnel (HCP). We examined their perceptions of the COVID-19 vaccine and implemented an intervention to increase vaccination uptake.
Participants and setting:
Healthcare personnel at a 790-bed tertiary-care center in Tokyo, Japan.
A prevaccination questionnaire was administered to HCP to examine their perceptions of the COVID-19 vaccine. A multifaceted intervention was then implemented involving (1) distribution of informational leaflets to all HCP, (2) hospital-wide announcements encouraging vaccination, (3) a mandatory lecture, (4) an educational session about the vaccine for pregnant or breastfeeding HCP, and (5) allergy testing for HCP at risk of allergic reactions to the vaccine. A postvaccination survey was also performed.
Of 1,575 HCP eligible for enrollment, 1,224 (77.7%) responded to the questionnaire, 533 (43.5%) expressed willingness to be vaccinated, 593 (48.4%) were uncertain, and 98 (8.0%) expressed unwillingness to be vaccinated. The latter 2 groups were concerned about the vaccine’s safety rather than its efficacy. After the intervention, the overall vaccination rate reached 89.7% (1,413 of 1,575), and 88.9% (614 of 691) of the prevaccination survey respondents answered “unwilling” to or “unsure” about eventually receiving a vaccination. In the postvaccination questionnaire, factors contributing to increased COVID-19 vaccination included information and endorsement of vaccination at the medical center (274 of 1,037, 26.4%).
This multifaceted intervention increased COVID-19 vaccinations among HCP at a Japanese hospital. Frequent support and provision of information were crucial for increasing the vaccination rate and may be applicable to the general population as well.
This consensus statement by the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA) and the Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine (AMDA), the Association for Professionals in Epidemiology and Infection Control (APIC), the HIV Medicine Association (HIVMA), the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA), the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society (PIDS), and the Society of Infectious Diseases Pharmacists (SIDP) recommends that coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccination should be a condition of employment for all healthcare personnel in facilities in the United States. Exemptions from this policy apply to those with medical contraindications to all COVID-19 vaccines available in the United States and other exemptions as specified by federal or state law. The consensus statement also supports COVID-19 vaccination of nonemployees functioning at a healthcare facility (eg, students, contract workers, volunteers, etc).
We surveyed infectious disease specialists about early coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccination preparedness. Almost all responding institutions rated their facility’s preparedness plan as either excellent or adequate. Vaccine hesitancy and concern about adverse reactions were the most commonly anticipated barriers to COVID-19 vaccination. Only 60% believed that COVID-19 vaccination should be mandatory.
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.