Background: A robust infection prevention infrastructure is critical for creating a safe resident environment in nursing homes. The CDC NHSN provides a standardized approach to infection surveillance and analysis, which can drive internal quality improvement efforts in nursing homes and could serve as an indicator of facilities’ infection prevention aptitude. The purpose of this study was to compare the characteristics of nursing homes enrolled to those not enrolled in the NHSN, including interfacility communication methods, as an essential part of reducing resident infection-related risks. Methods: Over a 2-year period, 50 nursing homes participated in a 12-month program designed to reduce healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) by enhancing relationships between nursing homes and hospitals. Overall, 11 demographic surveys were administered to nursing homes prior to the start of the phase 1 pilot year between January and March 2018, and another 39 were administered prior to beginning phase 2 in January–February 2019. The survey consisted of 36 questions on facility characteristics, including NHSN enrollment, infection prevention and control (IPC) program and infection preventionist characteristics, and communication methods related to interfacility transfer of care. We compared facility, IPC program characteristics, and communication methods between nursing homes stratified based on NHSN enrollment. These were compared using the Fisher exact test. Results: In total, 50 nursing homes, varying in size and services provided, completed the demographic survey (Table 1). Of these 50 nursing homes, 11 (22%) were enrolled in the NHSN. Nursing homes enrolled in the NHSN were more likely to use a telephone report prior to resident transfer in and out of the facility (P = .04) and to disseminate infection data to all facility nursing staff (P = .02). Overall, less than half of nursing homes included a telephone report as part of their routine hand-off communication, and most nursing homes relied only on written transfer forms or discharge documentation. Moreover, 65% of the nursing homes reported use of a standardized method to accept new residents with history of multidrug-resistant organism (MDRO), including a review of infection or MDRO type, antibiotic orders, and ambulation status. NHSN-enrolled nursing homes were also more likely to have an antibiotic stewardship program and to use the electronic health record (EHR) to facilitate infection surveillance, though these differences were not statistically significant. Conclusions: A higher percentage of nursing homes enrolled in the NHSN engaged in activities connected with resident safety including verbal report prior to interfacility transfer and antimicrobial stewardship programs. Dedicating resources for nursing homes to enhance their IPC program including NHSN enrollment should be encouraged.
Funding: This study was supported by a grant from the AHRQ (grant no. RO1HS25451).