One of the questions that we often ask ourselves is whether carriers of CPE (and other MDR-GNR) can de-isolated. Most of the guidelines are pretty non-committal on this point due to lack of evidence. Some new guidelines from ESCMID-EUCIC address this issue head on. But, unfortunately, the answer is that de-isolation of CPE carriers, particularly over the course of a single hospitalisation, isn’t going to work because there’s no effective decolonisation method.
Although there’s some controversy about whether or not we should apply contact precautions (by that I mean single room isolation, enhanced PPE, enhanced disinfection etc) all the time for all organisms, it would be a brave hospital to eschew contact precautions for CPE carriers. And so the question of whether and when we should ‘de-isolate’ patients with known CPE is an FAQ. And so enter a recent study in CMI comparing the spontaneous apparent loss of colonisation with various CPEs, concluding that KPC carbapenemases seem to hang around for longer than NDM carbapenemases, but both almost always last for the duration of a single hospitalisation.
The PHE Toolkit recommends pre-emptive isolation for patients who meet one of the risk-factor triggers for CPE screening. Furthermore, the pre-emptive isolation recommended in the Toolkit should be continued until three negative screens are obtained, each separated by 48 hours. In what is best described as a data-based thought experiment, colleagues from Imperial tested the impact of various CPE screening strategies on the burden of contact precautions generated.