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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.
The current study investigated associations between variation in the bovine perilipin-2 gene (PLIN2) and milk traits (milk fat content, milk protein content, milk yield and milk fatty acid (FA) component levels) in 409 New Zealand pasture-grazed Holstein-Friesian × Jersey-cross (HF × J-cross or Kiwicross™) cows. Five nucleotide sequence variants were found in three regions of the gene, including c.17C>T in exon 2, c.53A>G in exon 3, c.595+23G>A and c.595+104_595+108del in intron 5, and c.*302T>C in the 3′-untranslated region. The c.*302T>C substitution produces two nucleotide sequence variants (A5 and B5), and this variation was associated with variation in milk protein content and milkfat composition for C10:0, C11:0, C12:0, C13:0 and C16:0 FA and medium-chain fatty acid (MCFA) and long-chain fatty acid (LCFA) groups. After correcting for the effect of variation in the diacylglycerol acyl-CoA acyltransferase 1 gene (DGAT1) that results in the amino acid substitution p.K232A, variation in the FA binding protein 4 gene (FABP4) and variation in the stearoyl-CoA desaturase (Δ-9-desaturase) gene (SCD) that results in the amino acids substitution p.A293V, significant differences between A5A5 and B5B5 cows were found for C10:0, C11:0, C12:0, C13:0, C16:0, and the MCFA, LCFA, total saturated FA and C10:1 index groups. This suggests that nucleotide sequence variation in PLIN2 may be affecting milk FA component levels.
To describe the infection control preparedness measures undertaken for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) due to SARS-CoV-2 (previously known as 2019 novel coronavirus) in the first 42 days after announcement of a cluster of pneumonia in China, on December 31, 2019 (day 1) in Hong Kong.
A bundled approach of active and enhanced laboratory surveillance, early airborne infection isolation, rapid molecular diagnostic testing, and contact tracing for healthcare workers (HCWs) with unprotected exposure in the hospitals was implemented. Epidemiological characteristics of confirmed cases, environmental samples, and air samples were collected and analyzed.
From day 1 to day 42, 42 of 1,275 patients (3.3%) fulfilling active (n = 29) and enhanced laboratory surveillance (n = 13) were confirmed to have the SARS-CoV-2 infection. The number of locally acquired case significantly increased from 1 of 13 confirmed cases (7.7%, day 22 to day 32) to 27 of 29 confirmed cases (93.1%, day 33 to day 42; P < .001). Among them, 28 patients (66.6%) came from 8 family clusters. Of 413 HCWs caring for these confirmed cases, 11 (2.7%) had unprotected exposure requiring quarantine for 14 days. None of these was infected, and nosocomial transmission of SARS-CoV-2 was not observed. Environmental surveillance was performed in the room of a patient with viral load of 3.3 × 106 copies/mL (pooled nasopharyngeal and throat swabs) and 5.9 × 106 copies/mL (saliva), respectively. SARS-CoV-2 was identified in 1 of 13 environmental samples (7.7%) but not in 8 air samples collected at a distance of 10 cm from the patient’s chin with or without wearing a surgical mask.
Appropriate hospital infection control measures was able to prevent nosocomial transmission of SARS-CoV-2.
Temperature resulting from the joule heating power and the turn-on and turn-off dissipation of high-power, high-frequency applications is the root cause of their thermal instability, electrical performance degradation, and even thermal-fatigue failure. Thus, the study presents thermal and electrical characterizations of the power MOSFET module packaged in SOT-227 under natural convection and forced convection through three-dimensional (3D) thermal-electric (TE) coupled field analysis. In addition, the influences of some key parameters like electric loads, ambient conditions, thermal management considerations (heat sink, heat spreader) and operation conditions (duty cycle and switching frequency) on the power loss and thermal performance of the power module are addressed. The study starts from a suitable estimation of the power losses, where the conduction losses are calculated using the temperature- and gate-voltage-dependent on-state resistance and drain current through the device, and the switching losses are predicted based on the ideal switching waveforms of the power MOSFETs applied. The effectiveness of the theoretical predictions in terms of device’s power losses and temperatures is demonstrated through comparison with the results of circuit simulation and thermal experiment.
Choosing Wisely Canada (CWC) is a national initiative designed to encourage patient-clinician discussions about the appropriate, evidence-based use of medical tests, procedures and treatments. The Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians’ (CAEP) Choosing Wisely Canada (CWC) working group developed and released ten recommendations relevant to Emergency Medicine in June 2015 (items 1–5) and October 2016 (items 6–10). In November 2016, the CAEP CWC working group developed a process for updating the recommendations. This process involves: 1) Using GRADE to evaluate the quality of evidence, 2) reviewing relevant recommendations on an ad hoc basis as new evidence emerges, and 3) reviewing all recommendations every five years. While the full review of the CWC recommendations will be performed in 2020, a number of high-impact studies were published after our initial launch that prompted an ad hoc review of the relevant three of our ten recommendations prior to the full review in 2020. This paper describes the results of the CAEP CWC working group's ad hoc review of three of our ten recommendations in light of recent publications.
Two-dimensional particle-in-cell (PIC) simulations have been used to investigate the interaction between a laser pulse and a foil exposed to an external strong longitudinal magnetic field. Compared with that in the absence of the external magnetic field, the divergence of proton with the magnetic field in radiation pressure acceleration (RPA) regimes has improved remarkably due to the restriction of the electron transverse expansion. During the RPA process, the foil develops into a typical bubble-like shape resulting from the combined action of transversal ponderomotive force and instabilities. However, the foil prefers to be in a cone-like shape by using the magnetic field. The dependence of proton divergence on the strength of magnetic field has been studied, and an optimal magnetic field of nearly 60 kT is achieved in these simulations.
Triploid and pentaploid breeding is of great importance in agricultural production, but it is not always easy to obtain double ploidy parents. However, in fishes, chromosome ploidy is diversiform, which may provide natural parental resources for triploid and pentaploid breeding. Both tetraploid and hexaploid exist in Schizothorax fishes, which were thought to belong to different subfamilies with tetraploid Percocypris fishes in morphology, but they are sister genera in molecule. Fortunately, the pentaploid hybrid fishes have been successfully obtained by hybridization of Schizothorax wangchiachii (♀, 2n = 6X = 148) × Percocypris pingi (♂, 2n = 4X = 98). To understand the genetic and morphological difference among the hybrid fishes and their parents, four methods were used in this study: morphology, karyotype, red blood cell (RBC) DNA content determination and inter-simple sequence repeat (ISSR). In morphology, the hybrid fishes were steady, and between their parents with no obvious preference. The chromosome numbers of P. pingi have been reported as 2n = 4X = 98. In this study, the karyotype of S. wangchiachii was 2n = 6X = 148 = 36m + 34sm + 12st + 66t, while that the hybrid fishes was 2n = 5X = 123 = 39m + 28sm + 5st + 51t. Similarly, the RBC DNA content of the hybrid fishes was intermediate among their parents. In ISSR, the within-group genetic diversity of hybrid fishes was higher than that of their parents. Moreover, the genetic distance of hybrid fishes between P. pingi and S.wangchiachii was closely related to that of their parental ploidy, suggesting that parental genetic material stably coexisted in the hybrid fishes. This is the first report to show a stable pentaploid F1 hybrids produced by hybridization of a hexaploid and a tetraploid in aquaculture.
Copy number variations (CNVs), as an important source of genetic variation, can affect a wide range of phenotypes by diverse mechanisms. The somatostatin receptor 2 (SSTR2) gene plays important roles in cell proliferation and apoptosis. Recently, this gene was mapped to a CNV region, which encompasses quantitative trait loci of cattle economic traits including body weight, marbling score, etc. Therefore, SSTR2 CNV may exhibit phenotypic effects on cattle growth traits. In the current study, distribution of SSTR2 gene CNVs was investigated in six Chinese cattle breeds (XN, QC, NY, JA, LX and PN), and the results showed higher CNV polymorphisms in XN, QC and NY cattle. Next, association analysis between growth traits and SSTR2 CNV was performed for XN, QC and NY cattle. In NY, individuals with fewer copies showed better performance than those with more copies. Further, the effects of SSTR2 CNV on the SSTR2 mRNA level were also investigated, but revealed no significant correlation in either muscle or adipose tissue of adult NY cattle. The results suggested the potential for use of SSTR2 CNV as a marker for the molecular breeding of NY cattle.
To investigate the morphology and dimensions of the vestibular aqueduct on axial, single-oblique and double-oblique computed tomography images.
The computed tomography temporal bone scans of 112 patients were retrospectively evaluated. Midpoint and opercular measurements were performed using axial, single-oblique and double-oblique images. Morphometric analyses were also conducted. The vestibular aqueduct sizes on axial, single-oblique and double-oblique images were compared.
At the midpoint, the mean (± standard deviation) vestibular aqueduct measured 0.61 ± 0.23 mm, 0.74 ± 0.27 mm and 0.82 ± 0.38 mm on axial, single-oblique and double-oblique images, respectively; at the operculum, the vestibular aqueduct measured 0.91 ± 0.30 mm, 1.11 ± 0.45 mm and 1.66 ± 1.07 mm on the respective images. The co-efficients of variation of the vestibular aqueduct measured at the midpoint were 37.4 per cent, 36.5 per cent and 47.5 per cent on axial, single-oblique and double-oblique images, respectively; at the operculum, the measurements were 33.0 per cent, 40.5 per cent and 64.5 per cent. Regarding morphology, the vestibular aqueduct was fissured (33.5 per cent), tubular (64.3 per cent) or invisible (2.2 per cent).
The morphology and dimensions of the vestibular aqueduct were highly variable among axial, single-oblique and double-oblique images.
The response of soil microbial communities to soil quality changes is a sensitive indicator of soil ecosystem health. The current work investigated soil microbial communities under different fertilization treatments in a 31-year experiment using the phospholipid fatty acid (PLFA) profile method. The experiment consisted of five fertilization treatments: without fertilizer input (CK), chemical fertilizer alone (MF), rice (Oryza sativa L.) straw residue and chemical fertilizer (RF), low manure rate and chemical fertilizer (LOM), and high manure rate and chemical fertilizer (HOM). Soil samples were collected from the plough layer and results indicated that the content of PLFAs were increased in all fertilization treatments compared with the control. The iC15:0 fatty acids increased significantly in MF treatment but decreased in RF, LOM and HOM, while aC15:0 fatty acids increased in these three treatments. Principal component (PC) analysis was conducted to determine factors defining soil microbial community structure using the 21 PLFAs detected in all treatments: the first and second PCs explained 89.8% of the total variance. All unsaturated and cyclopropyl PLFAs except C12:0 and C15:0 were highly weighted on the first PC. The first and second PC also explained 87.1% of the total variance among all fertilization treatments. There was no difference in the first and second PC between RF and HOM treatments. The results indicated that long-term combined application of straw residue or organic manure with chemical fertilizer practices improved soil microbial community structure more than the mineral fertilizer treatment in double-cropped paddy fields in Southern China.
Quality improvement (QI) and patient safety are two areas that have grown into important operational and academic fields in recent years in health care, including in emergency medicine (EM). This is the third and final article in a series designed as a QI primer for EM clinicians. In the first two articles we used a fictional case study of a team trying to decrease the time to antibiotic therapy for patients with sepsis who were admitted through their emergency department. We introduced concepts of strategic planning, including stakeholder engagement and root cause analysis tools, and presented the Model for Improvement and Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) cycles as the backbone of the execution of a QI project. This article will focus on the measurement and evaluation of QI projects, including run charts, as well as methods that can be used to ensure the sustainability of change management projects.
Introduction: The 2015 CanMEDS framework requires all residency programs to increase their focus on Quality Improvement and Patient Safety (QIPS). We created a longitudinal (4-year), modular QIPS curriculum for FRCP emergency medicine residents at the University of Toronto (UT) using multiple educational methods. The curriculum addresses three levels of QIPS training: knowledge, practical skills at the microsystem level, and practical skills at the organization level. Aim Statement: To increase the UT FRCP emergency medicine residents absolute score on the QIKAT-R (Quality Improvement Knowledge Application Tool Revised) by 10% after the completion of the QIPS curriculum. Methods: Physicians and other healthcare professionals with QI expertise collaboratively designed and taught the curriculum. We used the QIKAT-R as the outcome measure to evaluate QI knowledge and its applicability. The QIKAT-R is a validated measure that assesses an individuals ability to decipher a QI issue within the healthcare context, and propose a change initiative to address it. The first cohort of residents completed the QIKAT-R prior to the first session in 2014 (pre) and at the completion of the curriculum in 2017 (post). Each response was anonymized and scored by physicians with QI expertise. The QIKAT-R scores and comments from course evaluations are used to make yearly iterative curriculum changes. Results: The QIPS curriculum was implemented in September 2014. All nine residents in the first cohort completed the curriculum; they demonstrated an absolute increase of 19.6% (5.3/27) in the mean QIKAT-R score (13.0 +/− 3.3 pre vs. 18.3 +/− 3.8 post, p=0.001). Of the pre-test responses, 26% were categorized as poor, 70% as good, and 4% as excellent, whereas of the post-test 11% of responses were categorized as poor, 37% as good, and 52% as excellent (p<0.001). Two iterative curriculum changes were made at the end of each academic year since 2014: (1) The time between sessions were decreased to promote knowledge retention, and (2) different PGY3 QI practical project options were provided to suit residents individual QI interests. QIKAT-R scores and resident feedback were used to evaluate the impact of the curriculum changes. Conclusion: A collaborative, modular, longitudinal QIPS curriculum for UT FRCP emergency medicine residents that met CanMEDS requirements was created using multiple educational methods. The first resident cohort that completed the curriculum demonstrated an absolute increase in QI knowledge and its applicability (as measured by the QIKAT-R) by 19.6%. Two PDSA cycles were completed to improve the curriculum with the change ideas generated from resident feedback. Ongoing challenges include limited staff availability to teach and supervise resident QI projects. Future directions include incentivising staff participation and providing mentorship for residents with a career interest in QI beyond what is offered by the curriculum.
Introduction: With the current opioid crisis in Canada, presentations of acute opioid withdrawal (AOW) to emergency departments (ED) are increasing. Undertreated symptoms may result in relapse, overdose and death. Buprenorphine/naloxone (bup/nal) is a partial opioid agonist/antagonist used to mitigate symptoms of AOW, approved by Health Canad in 2007 for opioid use disorder. It is superior to clonidine, and increases follow up with addiction treatment programs when initiated in the ED. Nevertheless, in our inner-city ED in 2014, bup/nal was rarely prescribed. We aimed to increase ED physician prescribing of bup/nal for AOW by 50% over a 26-month period. Methods: Commencing in 2014, an interprofessional team of ED physicians, nurses (RN), pharmacists and QI specialists collaborated to improve the care of patients with AOW. PDSA cycles included: (1) needs assessment of emergency physicians knowledge and practices in 2014; (2) Grand Rounds and a web based information sheet in 2015; (3) ED stocking of bup/nal; (4) convenience order set to standardize AOW management; (5) Grand Rounds in 2016 and (6) peer-coaching for RNs, including case-based discussions and pocket card cognitive aids. The outcome was the number of times bup/nal was prescribed per month by ED physicians between Sept, 2015 and Oct, 2017. Data included the prescriber and use of order set as the process measure. The balancing measure was the number of patients referred to the Addiction Medicine Team who subsequently received bup/nal. Results: Bup/nal was prescribed by ED physicians 70 times, and 14 times by the Addiction Medicine Team. With each PDSA cycle, there was an increase in prescribing, with no significant shifts or trends. By all physicians, the median number of prescriptions per month was 3, and increased from 2 to 4 prescriptions/month after nursing education. There was a smaller increase in the median from 2 to 3 prescriptions/month by ED physicians alone. The order set was used 97% of the time. Conclusion: Bup/nal is safe, effective, and increases follow up with addiction programs for comprehensive assessment and treatment planning. We met our goal of increasing bup/nal prescribing in the ED for AOW by 50%. Moreover, prescribing increased by 100% with the addition of patients who received bup/nal after a referral to the Addiction Medicine Team. The intervention with the greatest impact was RN education, demonstrating that peer-coaching and teaching by an interprofessional team is key to changing practice. Unfortunately, overall prescribing remains low, and ED physicians may still be hesitant to prescribe bup/nal and defer to the specialists. It is unclear if this is due to a low number of patients presenting with AOW, patients with contraindications to bup/nal, or ED physician factors. The next step is an audit of all patients with AOW to see what percentage of those eligible are treated with bup/nal. A follow up survey to determine ongoing barriers will inform further PDSA cycles.
Multidrug-resistant organisms (MDROs) are increasingly reported in residential care homes for the elderly (RCHEs). We assessed whether implementation of directly observed hand hygiene (DOHH) by hand hygiene ambassadors can reduce environmental contamination with MDROs.
From July to August 2017, a cluster-randomized controlled study was conducted at 10 RCHEs (5 intervention versus 5 nonintervention controls), where DOHH was performed at two-hourly intervals during daytime, before meals and medication rounds by a one trained nurse in each intervention RCHE. Environmental contamination by MRDOs, such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), carbapenem-resistant Acinetobacter species (CRA), and extended-spectrum β-lactamse (ESBL)–producing Enterobacteriaceae, was evaluated using specimens collected from communal areas at baseline, then twice weekly. The volume of alcohol-based hand rub (ABHR) consumed per resident per week was measured.
The overall environmental contamination of communal areas was culture-positive for MRSA in 33 of 100 specimens (33%), CRA in 26 of 100 specimens (26%), and ESBL-producing Enterobacteriaceae in 3 of 100 specimens (3%) in intervention and nonintervention RCHEs at baseline. Serial monitoring of environmental specimens revealed a significant reduction in MRSA (79 of 600 [13.2%] vs 197 of 600 [32.8%]; P<.001) and CRA (56 of 600 [9.3%] vs 94 of 600 [15.7%]; P=.001) contamination in the intervention arm compared with the nonintervention arm during the study period. The volume of ABHR consumed per resident per week was 3 times higher in the intervention arm compared with the baseline (59.3±12.9 mL vs 19.7±12.6 mL; P<.001) and was significantly higher than the nonintervention arm (59.3±12.9 mL vs 23.3±17.2 mL; P=.006).
The direct observation of hand hygiene of residents could reduce environmental contamination by MDROs in RCHEs.
This paper reports the measurement of the energy loss of protons at the energy of 100 keV penetrating a partially ionized hydrogen plasma. The plasma of ne ≈ 1015–16 cm−3; Te ≈ 1–2 eV and lifetime of about 8 µs is created by the hydrogen gas discharge. The experimental results show an increase of a factor of 2.8 in the energy loss, which are in good agreement with the Bethe, Standard Stopping Model, Li–Petrasso and Vlasov models’ predictions within the error limit. The Bethe–Bloch Coulomb logarithm term is found to increase by a factor of 4.0 for free electrons as compared with the situation where bound electrons prevail. The potential application of protons energy loss for diagnosing the electron density in plasma is proposed too.
The study aims to estimate the stress-strain constitutive behavior of intermetallic compounds (IMCs) observed in a solder interconnect from experimental nanoindentation responses through a modified analysis procedure for improved solution robustness based on Cheng and Cheng's and Dao et al.'s models. On the basis of parametric finite element nanoindentation simulation and dimensional analysis together with the concept of representative strain, a set of universal dimensionless functions are established, by which a forward and reverse analysis algorithm are created to predict nanoindentation responses from given elastoplastic properties and vice versa, respectively. The proposed analysis procedure is validated through comparison with the experimental nanoindentation responses and limited literature data. The results show that the proposed analysis procedure is an effective means for plastic property characterization of micro/nanoscale IMCs. The representative strain is found to be 0.056, which differs from the Dao et al.'s and Giannakopoulos and Suresh's estimate. Besides, though generally brittle and hard in nature, the IMCs in a micro/nanoscale thickness show high plasticity, and comprise a yield strength surpassing most typical engineering metals.
The topics of quality improvement (QI) and patient safety have become important themes in health care in recent years, particularly in the emergency department setting, which is a frequent point of contact with the health care system for patients. In the first of three articles in this series meant as a QI primer for emergency medicine clinicians, we introduced the strategic planning required to develop an effective QI project using a fictional case study as an example. In this second article we continue with our example of improving time to antibiotics for patients with sepsis, and introduce the Model for Improvement. We will review what makes a good aim statement, the various categories of measures that can be tracked during a QI project, and the relative merits and challenges of potential change concepts and ideas. We will also present the Model for Improvement’s rapid-cycle change methodology, the Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) cycle. The final article in this series will focus on the evaluation and sustainability of QI projects.
To investigate the role of local allergic inflammation and Staphylococcus aureus enterotoxins in chronic rhinosinusitis with nasal polyps.
This study included 36 patients with chronic rhinosinusitis with nasal polyps and 18 controls. Total immunoglobulin E, eosinophil cationic protein, staphylococcal enterotoxin types A and B specific immunoglobulin E, staphylococcal enterotoxin types A and B, and myeloperoxidase levels were determined.
Four patients with chronic rhinosinusitis with nasal polyps had a local allergy. All chronic rhinosinusitis with nasal polyps patients tested negative for staphylococcal enterotoxin types A and B specific immunoglobulin E. The chronic rhinosinusitis with nasal polyps group had significantly elevated staphylococcal enterotoxin types A and B levels in the supernatant. Fourteen patients belonged to the eosinophilic chronic rhinosinusitis with nasal polyps group and the others were characterised as having non-eosinophilic chronic rhinosinusitis with nasal polyps.
Local allergy may play a role in chronic rhinosinusitis with nasal polyps, independent of staphylococcal enterotoxin superantigens. Staphylococcal enterotoxins may be important in the pathogenesis of chronic rhinosinusitis with nasal polyps; however, their roles as superantigens were not confirmed in this study. In Chinese subjects, chronic rhinosinusitis with nasal polyps usually manifests as a neutrophilic inflammation.