From the Journals

Hand hygiene linked to reduced ICU health care–associated infections


Key clinical point: Hand hygiene was the key factor associated with a decrease in severe HAIs.

Major finding: A reduction in severe HAIs (aIRR 0.13) and a lower probability of HAI-associated in-hospital deaths (aHR 0.56]) were observed.

Study details: A prospective database analysis of more nearly 65,000 hospitalized patients.

Disclosures: The authors reported that they had no conflicts of interest.

Source: Hagel S et al. Clin Microbiol Infect. doi: 10.1016/j.cmi.2018.07.010.



A hospital-wide infection control program (ICP) was found to be associated with reduced health care-associated severe sepsis/septic shock or death in the ICU, but it was not clear whether this decrease was a consequence of the ICP or because of a concomitant improvement in HAI case management, according to a the results of a prospective analysis.

In addition, there was no significant decrease in overall HAIs seen despite implementation of the program, according to the report published online in Clinical Microbiology and Infection (doi: 10.1016/j.cmi.2018.07.010), according to Stefan Hagel, MD, of the Institute for Infectious Diseases and Infection Control, Jena (Germany) University Hospital, and his colleagues.

They assessed two surveillance periods (September 2011 to August 2012 and May 2013 to August 2014). The ICP started in October 2012, and included hand-hygiene promotion and bundle implementation for common HAIs.

The data were analyzed by segmented mixed-effects Poisson regression and multi-state models and reported as adjusted incidence rate ratios (aIRR) and 50 adjusted hazard ratios (aHR) with 95% confidence intervals (CI).

In the first period, 62,154 patients were under surveillance, with 1,568 HAIs identified in 1,170 patients (4.3/100 admissions) and 2,336 HAIs identified in 1,711 patients (4.9/100 admissions) in the second surveillance period. No differences were found in the overall HAI incidence rates between the periods in the general wards and ICUs. There was only a slight decline in the incidence rate of HAIs in the ICUs (aIRR 0.98 [0.97, 1.00] per 1-week increment), compared with the general wards (aIRR 1.01 [1.00, 1.02]).

However, a reduction in severe HAIs (aIRR 0.13 [0.05, 0.32]) and a lower probability of HAI-associated in-hospital deaths (aHR 0.56 [0.31, 0.99]) were observed in the second period in the ICUs.

In attempting to explain the variance seen between the results for general wards and the ICU, an analysis of alcohol-based handrub solution consumption as a marker of hand-hygiene behavior indicated that a remarkable increase in consumption occurred in the ICUs while a less pronounced increase occurred in the general wards. “This finding might explain the observed decline in the HAI incidence after starting the campaign in the ICUs, which was not observed on the general wards.” Dr. Hagel and his colleagues suggested.

The authors discussed how several confounding factors that influenced the incidence of HAIs needed to be considered. As a consequence of the improvement in HAI management, the number of collected blood culture sets nearly doubled hospital-wide from 13,126 to 25,805 per year between 2011 and 2014, which likely undermined the study objective, they stated. The increase in cultures may have impacted the number of overall HAIs found.

“Although the primary aim of the study of reducing the overall incidence of HAIs was not achieved, the study demonstrated a decline of severe HAIs in patients in ICUs in the second surveillance period. Whether this result was a consequence of the ICP or a general improvement in HAI management remains unclear,” the researchers concluded.

The authors reported that they had no conflicts of interest.

SOURCE: Hagel S et al. Clin Microbiol Infect. doi: 10.1016/j.cmi.2018.07.010].

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