SHEA Issues Hospital Guidance on Contact Precautions for Drug-Resistant Infections

By on 7:58 AM

The Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America has issued new guidance for hospitals concerning when they can safely discontinue contact precautions for patients with multi-drug resistant bacteria.

The guidance, titled "Duration of Contact Precautions for Acute-Care Settings" and published in SHEA's Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology journal, provides a framework for how long staff should use the safety protocols to reduce the spread of infection.

"The duration of contact precautions can have a significant impact on the health of the patient, the hospital and the community," said Gonzolo Bearman, MD, MPH, an author of the study and chairman of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Virginia Commonwealth University, according to a SHEA news release.

The recommendations for duration of contact precautions (e.g., gowns, gloves, masks), assembled by the SHEA Guidelines Committee, are specific to multi-drug resistant organisms (MDROs) that include Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), Vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE), Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) and Clostridium difficile.

The authors note that prior to adopting a new policy on the duration of contact precautions, "…hospitals should carefully assess their institutional risks, priorities, and resources. Infection prevention and control leadership should revisit and revise policies if the epidemiology of specific organisms of concern change, particularly in an outbreak or hyperendemic situation."

Phenelle Segal, RN, CIC, FAPIC

Phenelle Segal, RN, CIC, FAPIC, is the founder and president of Infection Control Consulting Services LLC (ICCS). Phenelle has more than 30 years' experience providing customized comprehensive infection control and prevention services to healthcare facilities nationwide. Her services focus on assisting hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, dental office and oral surgery practices, doctor's offices, nursing homes and other organizations with implementing and maintaining an infection control program that: complies with The Joint Commission, AAAHC, Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) and other regulatory agencies; respond to situations of noncompliance; and improve the processes for reducing risk.