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INCREASED INFECTION CONTROL PROTOCOLS IMPLEMENTED DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC DO NOT REDUCE HOSPITAL ACQUIRED INFECTIONS AT A TERTIARY CARE CENTER
C Thoma-Perry, J Saxe
St. Vincent Hospital

Background
Hospital acquired infections (HAI) are the primary cause of preventable morbidity and mortality amongst hospitalized patients as well as a significant financial burden to healthcare systems. Additionally, copious resources are used in the prevention of HAI including, but not limited to, active surveillance, detection of infected individuals, elimination of organism reservoirs, hand hygiene, barrier/contact precautions, and antimicrobial stewardship. Increased infection control standards have been a national focus over the past 12 months due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, providing a novel opportunity to assess the efficacy of these methods. As healthcare workers are implicated in the transmission of many HAI, it follows that stringent adherence to infection prevention policies may lead to a decrease in HAI. We therefore hypothesize that there would be a reduction in HAI at our facilities due to the increased compliance with aseptic technique and more widespread use of personal protective equipment.

Methods
Retrospective data was acquired from one tertiary care center for HAI including bloodstream infection, multidrug resistant organisms, surgical site infections, and urinary tract infections. Using a simple test of significance, we compared the rate of HAI from 1/1/2019-12/31/2019 and the same period in 2020.

Results
There was no significant difference observed in the rates of HAI from 2019 to 2020 (n=272 vs. 260, p=0.30). Additionally, in comparison to the first quarter of 2020 (n=66), there was no significant difference in HAI in the second (n=52, p=0.20), third (n=67, p=0.46), and fourth quarters (n=75, p=0.22) after COVID-19 infection control policies were implemented.

Conclusion
Universal recommendations for infection control policies remain controversial as many effective prevention strategies carry higher costs and barriers to implementation. However, ineffective infection control creates a significant long-term financial burden on the healthcare system through increased patient morbidity, length of stay, and resource depletion. It is essential to invest in evidence-based methods of infection control with the goal of reducing all HAI. Rigorous review of infection control methods is necessary to identify those that significantly reduce nosocomial infections and promote resource and financial stewardship at healthcare facilities.


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