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This article explores the utility of implementation science (IS) as a method to promote the effective uptake of antimicrobial stewardship processes. Elements of IS can be readily incorporated into QI work and used as a platform to extend stewardship reach. As stewards are stretched to do more, IS can be a potential vehicle to ensure that our collective work is impactful, sustainable, and contributes more broadly to clinically relevant improvements.
US policies require robust nursing home (NH) infection prevention and control (IPC) programs to ensure safe care. We assessed IPC resources and practices related to catheter and non–catheter-associated urinary tract infection (CAUTI and UTI) prevention among NHs.
We conducted a mixed-methods study from April 2018 through November 2019. Quantitative surveys assessed NH IPC program resources, practices, and communication during resident transfer. Semistructured qualitative interviews focused on IPC programs, CAUTI and UTI prevention practices, and resident transfer processes. Using a matrix as an analytic tool, findings from the quantitative survey data were combined with the qualitative data in the form of a joint display.
Representatives from 51 NHs completed surveys; interviews were conducted with 13 participants from 7 NHs. Infection preventionists (IPs) had limited experience and/or additional roles, and in 36.7% of NHs, IPs had no specific IPC training. IP turnover was often mentioned during interviews. Most facilities were aware of their CAUTI and UTI rates and reported using prevention practices, such as hydration (85.7%) or nurse-initiated catheter discontinuation (65.3%). Qualitative interviewees confirmed use of these practices and expressed additional concerns about overuse of urine testing and antibiotics. Although transfer sheets were used by 84% to communicate about infections, the information received was described as suboptimal.
NHs identified IP challenges related to turnover, limited education, and serving multiple roles. However, most NHs reported awareness of their CAUTI and UTI rates as well as their use of prevention practices. Importantly, we identified opportunities to enhance communication between NHs and hospitals to improve resident care and safety.
Urine-culture diagnostic stewardship aims to decrease misdiagnosis of urinary tract infections (UTIs); however, these interventions are not widely adopted. We examined UTI diagnosis and management practices to identify barriers to and facilitators of diagnostic stewardship implementation.
Using a qualitative descriptive design, we conducted semistructured interviews at 3 Veterans’ Affairs medical centers. Interviews were conducted between November 2021 and May 2022 via Zoom videoconferencing using an interview guide and visual prototypes of proposed interventions. Interviewees were asked about current practices and thoughts on proposed interventions for urine-culture ordering, processing, and reporting. We used a rapid analysis matrix approach to summarize key interview findings and compare practices and perceptions across sites.
We interviewed 31 stakeholders and end users. All sites had an antimicrobial stewardship program but limited initiatives targeting appropriate diagnosis and management of UTIs. The majority of those interviewed identified the importance of diagnostic stewardship. Perceptions of specific interventions ranged widely by site. For urine-culture ordering, all 3 sites agreed that documentation of symptomology would improve culturing practices but did not want it to interrupt workflow. Representatives at 2 sites expressed interest in conditional urine-culture processing and 1 was opposed. All sites had similar mechanisms to report culture results but varied in perceptions of the proposed interventions. Feedback from end users was used to develop a general diagnostic stewardship implementation checklist.
Interviewees thought diagnostic stewardship was important. Qualitative assessment involving key stakeholders in the UTI diagnostic process improved understanding of site-specific beliefs and practices to better implement interventions for urine-culture ordering, processing, and reporting.
The intensity of an antibiotic stewardship intervention to achieve clinical impact is not known. We conducted a multisite dissemination project of an intervention to reduce treatment of asymptomatic bacteriuria (ASB) and studied: (1) the association between implementation metrics and clinical outcomes and (2) the cost of implementation.
A central site facilitated a multimodality intervention to decrease unnecessary urine cultures and antibiotic treatment in patients with ASB at 4 Veterans Affairs medical centers.
The intervention consisted of a decision support aid algorithm and interactive teaching cases that provided in the moment audit and feedback on how to manage ASB. Implementation outcomes included minutes spent in intervention delivery, number of healthcare professionals reached, and number of sessions delivered. Clinical outcomes included days of antibiotic therapy (DOT), length of antibiotic therapy (LOT), and number of urine cultures ordered per 1000 bed days. Personnel reported weekly time logs.
Minutes spent in intervention delivery were inversely correlated with two clinical outcomes, DOT (R −0.3, P = .04) and LOT (R −0.3, P = .02). Number of healthcare professionals reached and number of sessions delivered were not correlated with clinical outcomes of DOT (R –0.003, P = .98, R = −0.059, P = .69) or LOT (R +0.073, P = .62, R −0.102, P = .49). Physician champions spent an average of 3.8% of effort on the intervention. The implementation cost was USD 22,299/year per site on average.
The amount of time local teams spent in delivery of an antibiotic stewardship intervention was correlated with the desired decrease in antibiotic use. Implementing this successful antibiotic stewardship intervention required minimal time.
The ways that device-associated infection prevention practices changed during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic remain unknown. We collected data mid-pandemic to assess the use of several infection prevention practices and for comparison with historical data.
Repeated cross-sectional survey.
US acute-care hospitals.
We surveyed infection preventionists from a national random sample of 881 US acute-care hospitals in 2021 to estimate the current use of practices to prevent catheter-associated urinary tract infection (CAUTI), central line–associated bloodstream infection (CLABSI), and ventilator-associated events (VAE). We compared the 2021 results with those from surveys occurring every 4 years since 2005.
The 2021 survey response rate was 47%; previous survey response rates ranged from 59% to 72%. Regular use of most practices to prevent CLABSI (chlorhexidine gluconate for site antisepsis, 99.0%, and maximum sterile barrier precautions, 98.7%) and VAE (semirecumbent positioning, 93.4%, and sedation vacation, 85.8%) continued to increase or plateaued in 2021. Conversely, use of several CAUTI prevention practices (portable bladder ultrasound scanner, 65.6%; catheter reminders or nurse-initiated discontinuation, 66.3%; and intermittent catheterization, 37.3%) was lower in 2021, with a significant decrease for some practices compared to 2017 (P ≤ .02 for all comparisons). In 2021, 42.1% of hospitals reported regular use of the newer external urinary collection devices for women.
Although regular use of CLABSI and VAE preventive practices continued to increase (or plateaued), use of several CAUTI preventive practices decreased during the COVID-19 pandemic. Structural issues relating to care during the pandemic may have contributed to a decrease in device-associated infection prevention practices.
Multiplex polymerase chain reaction (PCR) respiratory panels are rapid, highly sensitive tests for viral and bacterial pathogens that cause respiratory infections. In this study, we (1) described best practices in the implementation of respiratory panels based on expert perspectives and (2) identified tools for diagnostic stewardship to enhance the usefulness of testing.
We conducted a survey of the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America Research Network to explore current and future approaches to diagnostic stewardship of multiplex PCR respiratory panels.
In total, 41 sites completed the survey (response rate, 50%). Multiplex PCR respiratory panels were perceived as supporting accurate diagnoses at 35 sites (85%), supporting more efficient patient care at 33 sites (80%), and improving patient outcomes at 23 sites (56%). Thirteen sites (32%) reported that testing may support diagnosis or patient care without improving patient outcomes. Furthermore, 24 sites (58%) had implemented diagnostic stewardship, with a median of 3 interventions (interquartile range, 1–4) per site. The interventions most frequently reported as effective were structured order sets to guide test ordering (4 sites), restrictions on test ordering based on clinician or patient characteristics (3 sites), and structured communication of results (2 sites). Education was reported as “helpful” but with limitations (3 sites).
Many hospital epidemiologists and experts in infectious diseases perceive multiplex PCR respiratory panels as useful tests that can improve diagnosis, patient care, and patient outcomes. However, institutions frequently employ diagnostic stewardship to enhance the usefulness of testing, including most commonly clinical decision support to guide test ordering.
To assess the extent to which evidence-based practices are regularly used in acute care hospitals in different countries.
Cross-sectional survey study. Participants and setting: Infection preventionists in acute care hospitals in the United States (US), the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Japan.
Data collected from hospital surveys distributed between 2015 and 2017 were evaluated to determine the use of practices to prevent catheter-associated urinary tract infection (CAUTI), central-line–associated bloodstream infection (CLABSI), ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP), and Clostridioides difficile infection (CDI). Descriptive statistics were used to examine hospital characteristics and the percentage of hospitals reporting regular use of each infection prevention practice.
Survey response rates were 59% in the United States, 65% in the Netherlands, 77% in Switzerland, and 65% in Japan. Several recommended practices were used in the majority of hospitals: aseptic catheter insertion and maintenance (CAUTI), maximum sterile barrier precautions (CLABSI), semirecumbent patient positioning (VAP), and contact precautions and routine daily cleaning (CDI). Other prevention practices for CAUTI and VAP were used less frequently, particularly in Swiss and Japanese hospitals. Established surveillance systems were also lacking in Dutch, Swiss and Japanese hospitals.
Most hospitals in the United States, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Japan have adopted certain infection prevention practices. Clear opportunities for reducing HAI risk in hospitals exist across all 4 countries surveyed.
We assessed the long-term sustainability of a quality improvement intervention to reduce urethral catheter use at a Veterans Affairs (VA) hospital. During the 8 years after the initial intervention, point-prevalence surveillance showed that urethral catheter use continued to decrease (OR, 0.91; 95% CI, 0.86–0.97; P = .003) and that appropriateness of catheter use remained unchanged.
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.
We conducted a prospective observational study of indications for use and patient experiences with midline catheters (n = 50) compared to peripherally inserted central catheters (n = 63). The primary indication for patients with midline catheters was difficult venous access. Patients with midline catheters reported fewer complications than patients with peripherally inserted central catheters.
Clostridioides difficile infection (CDI) can be prevented through infection prevention practices and antibiotic stewardship. Diagnostic stewardship (ie, strategies to improve use of microbiological testing) can also improve antibiotic use. However, little is known about the use of such practices in US hospitals, especially after multidisciplinary stewardship programs became a requirement for US hospital accreditation in 2017. Thus, we surveyed US hospitals to assess antibiotic stewardship program composition, practices related to CDI, and diagnostic stewardship.
Surveys were mailed to infection preventionists at 900 randomly sampled US hospitals between May and October 2017. Hospitals were surveyed on antibiotic stewardship programs; CDI prevention, treatment, and testing practices; and diagnostic stewardship strategies. Responses were compared by hospital bed size using weighted logistic regression.
Overall, 528 surveys were completed (59% response rate). Almost all (95%) responding hospitals had an antibiotic stewardship program. Smaller hospitals were less likely to have stewardship team members with infectious diseases (ID) training, and only 41% of hospitals met The Joint Commission accreditation standards for multidisciplinary teams. Guideline-recommended CDI prevention practices were common. Smaller hospitals were less likely to use high-tech disinfection devices, fecal microbiota transplantation, or diagnostic stewardship strategies.
Following changes in accreditation standards, nearly all US hospitals now have an antibiotic stewardship program. However, many hospitals, especially smaller hospitals, appear to struggle with access to ID expertise and with deploying diagnostic stewardship strategies. CDI prevention could be enhanced through diagnostic stewardship and by emphasizing the role of non–ID-trained pharmacists and clinicians in antibiotic stewardship.
Collaborative programs have helped reduce catheter-associated urinary tract infection (CAUTI) rates in community-based nursing homes. We assessed whether collaborative participation produced similar benefits among Veterans Health Administration (VHA) nursing homes, which are part of an integrated system.
This study included 63 VHA nursing homes enrolled in the “AHRQ Safety Program for Long-Term Care,” which focused on practices to reduce CAUTI.
Changes in CAUTI rates, catheter utilization, and urine culture orders were assessed from June 2015 through May 2016. Multilevel mixed-effects negative binomial regression was used to derive incidence rate ratios (IRRs) representing changes over the 12-month program period.
There was no significant change in CAUTI among VHA sites, with a CAUTI rate of 2.26 per 1,000 catheter days at month 1 and a rate of 3.19 at month 12 (incidence rate ratio [IRR], 0.99; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.67–1.44). Results were similar for catheter utilization rates, which were 11.02% at month 1 and 11.30% at month 12 (IRR, 1.02; 95% CI, 0.95–1.09). The numbers of urine cultures per 1,000 residents were 5.27 in month 1 and 5.31 in month 12 (IRR, 0.93; 95% CI, 0.82–1.05).
No changes in CAUTI rates, catheter use, or urine culture orders were found during the program period. One potential reason was the relatively low baseline CAUTI rate, as compared with a cohort of community-based nursing homes. This low baseline rate is likely related to the VHA’s prior CAUTI prevention efforts. While broad-scale collaborative approaches may be effective in some settings, targeting higher-prevalence safety issues may be warranted at sites already engaged in extensive infection prevention efforts.
Psychological, neurological, and social impairments caused by dementia may limit the person's everyday living and experiences, but their capacity to enjoy a meaningful life is still retained. Increasingly, evidence has been shown the importance of reablement approaches to care in maximizing the older person's independence, health, and well-being through increased engagement in their daily, physical, social, and community activities. However, there is a major knowledge gap in providing reablement for people living with dementia. We describe one case of a client with moderate dementia and her daughter carer who participated as a dyad in a person centered, interdisciplinary, and reablement program called I-HARP (Interdisciplinary home-based reablement program). I-HARP is designed to improve functional capacity of those community dwelling, older people living with dementia, and other health conditions. In this paper, we discussed key contributions that such a reablement approach to care can make to optimizing the social health of people living with dementia.
The impact of healthcare system integration on infection prevention programs is unknown. Using catheter-associated urinary tract infection (CAUTI) prevention as an example, we hypothesize that US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) nursing homes have a more robust infection prevention infrastructure due to integration and centralization compared with non–VA nursing homes.
VA and non-VA nursing homes participating in the AHRQ Safety Program for Long-Term Care collaborative.
Nursing homes provided baseline information about their infection prevention programs to assess strengths and gaps related to CAUTI prevention via a needs assessment questionnaire.
A total of 353 of 494 nursing homes from 41 states (71%; 47 VA and 306 non-VA facilities) responded. VA nursing homes reported more hours per week devoted to infection prevention-related activities (31 vs 12 hours; P<.001) and were more likely to have committees that reviewed healthcare-associated infections. Compared with non-VA facilities, a higher percentage of VA nursing homes reported tracking CAUTI rates (94% vs 66%; P<.001), sharing CAUTI data with leadership (94% vs 70%; P=.014) and with nursing personnel (85% vs 56%, P=.003). However, fewer VA nursing homes reported having policies for appropriate catheter use (64% vs 81%; P=.004) and catheter insertion (83% vs 94%; P=.004).
Among nursing homes participating in an AHRQ-funded collaborative, VA and non-VA nursing homes differed in their approach to CAUTI prevention. Best practices from both settings should be applied universally to create an optimal infection prevention program within emerging integrated healthcare systems.
To assess knowledge about infection prevention among nursing home personnel and identify gaps potentially addressable through a quality improvement collaborative.
Baseline knowledge assessment of catheter-associated urinary tract infection, asymptomatic bacteriuria, antimicrobial stewardship, and general infection prevention practices for healthcare-associated infections.
Nursing homes across 14 states participating in the national “Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Safety Program for Long-Term Care: Healthcare-Associated Infections/Catheter-Associated Urinary Tract Infection.”
Each facility aimed to obtain responses from at least 10 employees (5 licensed and 5 unlicensed). We assessed the percentage of correct responses.
A total of 184 (78%) of 236 participating facilities provided 1 response or more. Of the 1,626 respondents, 822 (50.6%) were licensed; 117 facilities (63.6%) were for-profit. While 99.1% of licensed personnel recognized the definition of asymptomatic bacteriuria, only 36.1% knew that pyuria could not distinguish a urinary tract infection from asymptomatic bacteriuria. Among unlicensed personnel, 99.6% knew to notify a nurse if a resident developed fever or confusion, but only 27.7% knew that cloudy, smelly urine should not routinely be cultured. Although 100% of respondents reported receiving training in hand hygiene, less than 30% knew how long to rub hands (28.5% licensed, 25.2% unlicensed) or the most effective agent to use (11.7% licensed, 10.6% unlicensed).
This national assessment demonstrates an important need to enhance infection prevention knowledge among healthcare personnel working in nursing homes to improve resident safety and quality of care.
Catheter-associated urinary tract infection (CAUTI) is considered a reasonably preventable event in the hospital setting, and it has been included in the US Department of Health and Human Services National Action Plan to Prevent Healthcare-Associated Infections. While multiple definitions for measuring CAUTI exist, each has important limitations, and understanding these limitations is important to both clinical practice and policy decisions. The National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) surveillance definition, the most frequently used outcome measure for CAUTI prevention efforts, has limited clinical correlation and does not necessarily reflect noninfectious harms related to the catheter. We advocate use of the device utilization ratio (DUR) as an additional performance measure for potential urinary catheter harm. The DUR is patient-centered and objective and is currently captured as part of NHSN reporting. Furthermore, these data are readily obtainable from electronic medical records. The DUR also provides a more direct reflection of improvement efforts focused on reducing inappropriate urinary catheter use.
Infect. Control Hosp. Epidemiol. 2016;37(3):327–333
We surveyed 571 US hospitals about practices used to prevent Clostridium difficile infection (CDI). Most hospitals reported regularly using key CDI prevention practices, and perceived their strength of evidence as high. The largest discrepancy between regular use and perceived evidence strength occurred with antimicrobial stewardship programs.
Infect. Control Hosp. Epidemiol. 2015;36(8):969–971