The prevention and control of healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) can help reduce patient morbidity and mortality, but a common prevention effort for patients with hard to treat infections known as contact precautions, can have positive and negative impacts on patient care. A new report published in the January issue of Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology, the journal of the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America, found when patients with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and other antibiotic-resistant bacteria are isolated in the hospital, these contact precautions reduced the number of visits by healthcare workers and outside visitors, but also increased compliance with hand hygiene upon exit of patients' rooms.
Contact precautions are infection control measures that require patients to be isolated in their own room or grouped with patients colonized or infected with the same multidrug resistant organism like Clostridium difficile or MRSA. Healthcare workers and visitors must wear gloves, gowns, and other protective equipment while with a patient on contact precautions.
Over a 19-month period, researchers conducted a prospective cohort study observing healthcare worker activity at four acute-care hospitals in the United States where trained observers performed "secret shopper" monitoring of healthcare worker activities during routine care using a standardized collection tool and fixed 1-hour observations periods.