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Vaughn VM, Saint S, Greene MT, et al. Trends in Health Care–Associated Infection Prevention Practices in US Veterans Affairs Hospitals From 2005 to 2017. JAMA Netw Open. 2020;3(2):e1920464. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.20464
How have infection prevention practices changed over time in Veterans Affairs hospitals?
In this study of 320 surveys completed by infection preventionists from 2005 to 2017, the use of 12 different infection prevention practices increased in Veterans Affairs hospitals. Between 92% and 100% of hospitals reported regular use of key infection prevention practices for Clostridioides difficile infection and central line–associated bloodstream infection, but reported use of such practices for catheter-associated urinary tract infection, ventilator-associated pneumonia, and diagnostic stewardship for health care-associated infections were variable.
The findings suggest that as hospitals continue to merge and health systems become increasingly integrated, successes in infection prevention within the Veterans Affairs hospitals could inform patient safety broadly.
Health care–associated infection (HAI) is associated with substantial harm. To reduce HAI, the largest integrated health care system in the United States—the Veterans Health Administration—was an early adopter of infection prevention policies and initiatives. Whether these efforts translated into increased use of practices to prevent HAI in Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals is unknown.
To evaluate changes over time in infection prevention practices and the perception of the importance of infection prevention to hospital leadership.
Design, Settings, and Participants
For this survey study, every 4 years between 2005 and 2017, infection preventionists were surveyed at all VA hospitals on use of practices associated with common HAIs, including central line–associated bloodstream infection (CLABSI), catheter-associated urinary tract infection (CAUTI), ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP), and (beginning in 2013) Clostridioides difficile infection. Data analysis was performed from February 1, 2019, to July 1, 2019.
Main Outcomes and Measures
Reported regular use of key infection prevention practices and perceived importance of infection prevention to hospital leadership.
Between 2005 and 2017, 320 total surveys were completed with response rates ranging from 59% (73 of 124) in 2017 to 80% (95 of 119) in 2005. Use of 12 different infection prevention practices increased. Since 2013, 92% (69 of 75) to 100% of VA hospitals reported regular use of key infection prevention practices for C difficile infection and CLABSI. In contrast, adoption of many practices to prevent CAUTI, although increasing, have lagged. Despite reported increases in the use of some practices for VAP such as semirecumbent positioning (89% [79 of 89] in 2005 vs 97% [61 of 63] in 2017, P = .007 for trend) and subglottic secretion drainage (23% [19 of 84] in 2005 vs 65% [40 of 62] in 2017, P < .001), use of other key practices such as daily interruptions of sedation (85% [55 of 65] in 2009 vs 87% [54 of 62] in 2017, P = .66) and early mobilization (81% [52 of 64] in 2013 vs 82% [51 of 62] in 2017, P = .88) has not increased. Antibiotic stewardship programs are now reported in nearly every VA hospital (97% [71 of 73]); however, some hospitals report practices for microbiologic testing for HAIs (eg, 22% [16 of 72] report routine urine culture testing in 2017) that could also contribute to antibiotic overuse.
Conclusions and Relevance
From 2005 to 2017, reported use of 12 different infection prevention practices increased in VA hospitals. Areas for continued improvement of infection prevention practices appear to include CAUTI, certain VAP practices, and diagnostic stewardship for HAI. The reported adoption of many infection prevention practices in VA hospitals was higher than in non-VA hospitals. As hospitals continue to merge and health systems become increasingly integrated, these successes could help inform patient safety broadly.
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