A Reflection from HIS 2018: What is the main driver for C. difficile infection? Antibiotics or C. difficile acquisition?

I made a flying visit to HIS today in Liverpool to have a debate with Prof Mark Wilcox on whether or not antibiotics are the most important factor in healthcare-associated C. difficile infection. Mark was arguing for the motion, and I was arguing against it. And the result…well you’ll have to read to the bottom!

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CPE guidelines galore: ECDC and ACSQH join the party

I recently posted on the WHO CPE guidelines. A couple of people have alerted me to two other recently published guidelines, one from ECDC, and the other from Australian Commission  on Safety and Quality in Healthcare. So, we now have a wealth of guidelines to prevent and control CPE. But how to they compare?

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The importance of patient sharing between hospitals on MRSA transmission

In a remarkable quirk of academic publishing, two virtually identical studies by separate research groups in the UK (one in London, and one in Cambridge) published a week apart have come to the same conclusion: that we are missing a sizable portion of MRSA transmission by focussing solely on wards in a single hospital. A referral-network level view is required for an accurate picture of MRSA transmission. (You may have seen some press about the Cambridge article, e.g. on the BBC here.)

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Promiscuous plasmids: a rapid reflection from ECCMID 2017

I came to ECCMID 2017 with a very specific question: do we need to think beyond ‘same-bug-same-gene’ horizontal transmission from a practical IPC view point in order to address the threat of IPC? The answer, unfortuantely, is yes!

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How much S. aureus is hospital acquired? Mk II

I posted a blog a couple of years ago (was it really that long!) on a fascinating study suggesting that only 1/5 of S. aureus in hospital patients is hospital-acquired. My key conclusion from that study was that the number of potential sources for S. aureus that the team investigated was inadequate to draw any firm conclusions (they didn’t include staff, surfaces, or visitors). I concluded that ‘the next frontier of transmission mapping must be a more comprehensive evaluation of other potential sources…’. The authors must have been reading, because this study from the same group was published recently in Lancet ID, which is a more comprehensive evaluation of other potential sources.

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Back to the floor..

flooringA little while ago I blogged about the excellent study from Nottingham that demonstrated significant VRE and MRSA contamination on socks used to prevent falls in the hospitalised elderly. This has been followed by another paper suggesting that shoe coverings undurprisingly become contaminated. So, what? How does this really impact on transmission? A new study from Curtis Donskey’s group has looked at hand contamination in patients directly relating to floor contamination. Continue reading

PPE for preventing highly infectious diseases

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The use of PPE and the protection of HCWs against highly infectious diseases was (and is) a topic of major importance, around the globe. The recent Cochrane review by Verbeek et al. was probably hoping to offer this “vital” information.

Unfortunately, they found no studies on the effects of goggles, face shields, long-sleeved gloves or taping on the risk of contamination. All they found was very low quality evidence, with high risk of bias and uncertain estimates of effect, that:

  • More breathable types of PPE offer more comfort without increasing the risk of contamination
  • Double gloving and CDC doffing guidance appear to decrease the risk of contamination, and
  • Active more than passive training in PPE use may reduce PPE and doffing errors.

Their conclusions are obvious: we need high-quality studies of the materials, their use and protective effects, safe ways of doffing, and the most adequate training to achieve safe use of PPE for HCWs in the presence of highly infectious diseases or those (even less infectious) that may cause severe harm to HCWs.

But what to do until than? My personal opinion is that we should only use PPE, we are used to and know how to use. First-time users, even if supplied with the best available products, will inevitably fail to remove the PPE without error. Consequently, institutions should have a stable selection of PPE, and in the case of preventing highly infectious diseases, a selected group of HCWs with continuous active training, as it is too late to start when the next epidemic is hitting our healthcare centers.

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