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Background: Emergency departments (EDs) are complex, sociotechnical, high-paced, safety-critical work systems that have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite training, consistent compliance with recommended PPE use during COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging. Healthcare workers (HCWs) have had adapt to overcome these challenges to ensure their own safety and patient safety. We sought to identify barriers in the work system that impede the recommended COVID-19 PPE use in EDs. Methods: We conducted semistructured, in-depth interviews over ZoomTM from August 2020–May 2021 with 45 HCWs from the ED (ie, physicians, nurses, ancillary support staff, etc) affiliated with a large, tertiary-care, academic medical center. These audio-recorded interviews were transcribed and analyzed using a hybrid (inductive and deductive) qualitative coding approach in NVivo software. The deductive portion was guided by the SEIPS work system model, a well-known human-factors conceptual framework. Results: We identified multiple work-system factors in the ED that impede compliance with the recommended COVID-19 PPE use. In addition, ED HCWs have reported making a variety of adaptations or developing strategies to overcome these barriers. Some of these adaptations were made to the PPE physically (eg, trimming portions of PPE), and others were related to the tasks and/or processes associated with PPE, such as filming their own training video demonstrating PPE donning and doffing techniques, and environment services staff checking a patient’s status with nurses prior to entering the patient’s room when there was no COVID-19 signage on the door. Conclusions: Consistent compliance with COVID-19 PPE use in ED clinical practice is challenging and can be negatively affected by a variety of work system factors. Resilience strategies developed by HCWs can provide critical information with regards to HCW needs and potential directions for innovation. Future efforts should focus on not only changing individual HCW behavior through training but also on improving the PPE and ED work system design.
Funding: US CDC
Disclosures: The authors gratefully acknowledge the US CDC for funding this work. This material is based upon work supported by the Naval Sea Systems Command (under contract no. N00024-13-D-6400, task order NH076). Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) or the US CDC.
Background: Infection prevention and control (IPC) protocols and guidelines are important quality management tools for educating care professionals and standardizing care processes. However, most of the actual care (ie, work as done) differ from protocol recommendations (ie, work as imagined). No tool or set of criteria has been established for how to develop human-centered IPC protocols. The goal of this research was to develop a standardized human-factors analysis method to provide healthcare organizations with a tangible framework to improve protocol usefulness and usability. Methods: The proposed analysis method combines principles from human-factors engineering (ie, usability heuristics, systems ambiguity framework) and instructional design. Relevant literature was analyzed by experts in human factors and clinical experts to develop a tool with criteria such as visualization and method ambiguity. Overall, 5 IPC-related protocols from a large academic hospital were selected from an electronic database and were evaluated using the proposed criteria. Results: During application of the analysis method, 70 human-factors–related problems were identified across 5 IPC protocols (eg, heater cooler cleaning), including violation of design heuristics and the presence of ambiguity. Frequently violated human-factors design principles included appearance and/or visibility (ie, visual display of content), visualization (ie, providing illustrative examples), and method ambiguity (ie, lack of clarity on how to complete a task). Figure 1 provides a sample of the human-factors problems identified and suggested solutions. Only minor modifications (ie, clarification of criteria definitions) were needed on the final tool. Conclusions: The human-factors–based tool developed in this study can be used both to develop new IPC protocols and to evaluate and improve existing protocols.
Funding: The CDC funded this work. This material is based upon work supported by the Naval Sea Systems Command under Contract No. N00024-13-D-6400, Task Order NH076. Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) or the US CDC.
Healthcare workers (HCWs) not adhering to physical distancing recommendations is a risk factor for acquisition of severe acute respiratory coronavirus virus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The study objective was to assess the impact of interventions to improve HCW physical distancing on actual distance between HCWs in a real-life setting.
HCWs voluntarily wore proximity beacons to measure the number and intensity of physical distancing interactions between each other in a pediatric intensive care unit. We compared interactions before and after implementing a bundle of interventions including changes to the layout of workstations, cognitive aids, and individual feedback from wearable proximity beacons.
Overall, we recorded 10,788 interactions within 6 feet (∼2 m) and lasting >5 seconds. The number of HCWs wearing beacons fluctuated daily and increased over the study period. On average, 13 beacons were worn daily (32% of possible staff; range, 2–32 per day). We recorded 3,218 interactions before the interventions and 7,570 interactions after the interventions began. Using regression analysis accounting for the maximum number of potential interactions if all staff had worn beacons on a given day, there was a 1% decline in the number of interactions per possible interactions in the postintervention period (incident rate ratio, 0.99; 95% confidence interval, 0.98–1.00; P = .02) with fewer interactions occurring at nursing stations, in workrooms and during morning rounds.
Using quantitative data from wearable proximity beacons, we found an overall small decline in interactions within 6 feet between HCWs in a busy intensive care unit after a multifaceted bundle of interventions was implemented to improve physical distancing.
Physical distancing among healthcare workers (HCWs) is an essential strategy in preventing HCW-to-HCWs transmission of severe acute respiratory coronavirus virus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).
To understand barriers to physical distancing among HCWs on an inpatient unit and identify strategies for improvement.
Qualitative study including observations and semistructured interviews conducted over 3 months.
A non–COVID-19 adult general medical unit in an academic tertiary-care hospital.
HCWs based on the unit.
We performed a qualitative study in which we (1) observed HCW activities and proximity to each other on the unit during weekday shifts July–October 2020 and (2) conducted semi-structured interviews of HCWs to understand their experiences with and perspectives of physical distancing in the hospital. Qualitative data were coded based on a human-factors engineering model.
We completed 25 hours of observations and 20 HCW interviews. High-risk interactions often occurred during handoffs of care at shift changes and patient rounds, when HCWs gathered regularly in close proximity for at least 15 minutes. Identified barriers included spacing and availability of computers, the need to communicate confidential patient information, and the desire to maintain relationships at work.
Physical distancing can be improved in hospitals by restructuring computer workstations, work rooms, and break rooms; applying visible cognitive aids; adapting shift times; and supporting rounds and meetings with virtual conferencing. Additional strategies to promote staff adherence to physical distancing include rewarding positive behaviors, having peer leaders model physical distancing, and encouraging additional safe avenues for social connection at a safe distance.
To test the feasibility of targeted gown and glove use by healthcare personnel caring for high-risk nursing-home residents to prevent Staphylococcus aureus acquisition in short-stay residents.
Uncontrolled clinical trial.
This study was conducted in 2 community-based nursing homes in Maryland.
The study included 322 residents on mixed short- and long-stay units.
During a 2-month baseline period, all residents had nose and inguinal fold swabs taken to estimate S. aureus acquisition. The intervention was iteratively developed using a participatory human factors engineering approach. During a 2-month intervention period, healthcare personnel wore gowns and gloves for high-risk care activities while caring for residents with wounds or medical devices, and S. aureus acquisition was measured again. Whole-genome sequencing was used to assess whether the acquisition represented resident-to-resident transmission.
Among short-stay residents, the methicillin-resistant S. aureus acquisition rate decreased from 11.9% during the baseline period to 3.6% during the intervention period (odds ratio [OR], 0.28; 95% CI, 0.08–0.92; P = .026). The methicillin-susceptible S. aureus acquisition rate went from 9.1% during the baseline period to 4.0% during the intervention period (OR, 0.41; 95% CI, 0.12–1.42; P = .15). The S. aureus resident-to-resident transmission rate decreased from 5.9% during the baseline period to 0.8% during the intervention period.
Targeted gown and glove use by healthcare personnel for high-risk care activities while caring for residents with wounds or medical devices, regardless of their S. aureus colonization status, is feasible and potentially decreases S. aureus acquisition and transmission in short-stay community-based nursing-home residents.
To systematically assess enhanced personal protective equipment (PPE) doffing safety risks.
We employed a 3-part approach to this study: (1) hierarchical task analysis (HTA) of the PPE doffing process; (2) human factors-informed failure modes and effects analysis (FMEA); and (3) focus group sessions with a convenience sample of infection prevention (IP) subject matter experts.
A large academic US hospital with a regional Special Pathogens Treatment Center and enhanced PPE doffing protocol experience.
Eight IP experts.
The HTA was conducted jointly by 2 human-factors experts based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention PPE guidelines. The findings were used as a guide in 7 focus group sessions with IP experts to assess PPE doffing safety risks. For each HTA task step, IP experts identified failure mode(s), assigned priority risk scores, identified contributing factors and potential consequences, and identified potential risk mitigation strategies. Data were recorded in a tabular format during the sessions.
Of 103 identified failure modes, the highest priority scores were associated with team members moving between clean and contaminated areas, glove removal, apron removal, and self-inspection while preparing to doff. Contributing factors related to the individual (eg, technical/ teamwork competency), task (eg, undetected PPE contamination), tools/technology (eg, PPE design characteristics), environment (eg, inadequate space), and organizational aspects (eg, training) were identified. Participants identified 86 types of risk mitigation strategies targeting the failure modes.
Despite detailed guidelines, our study revealed 103 enhanced PPE doffing failure modes. Analysis of the failure modes suggests potential mitigation strategies to decrease self-contamination risk during enhanced PPE doffing.
In this systematic evaluation of fluorescent gel markers (FGM) applied to high-touch surfaces with a metered applicator (MA) made for the purpose versus a generic cotton swab (CS), removal rates were 60.5% (476 of 787) for the MA and 64.3% (506 of 787) for the CS. MA-FGM removal interpretation was more consistent, 83% versus 50% not removed, possibly due to less varied application and more adhesive gel.
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