July 30, 2020

Impact of COVID-19 on HAI prevention efforts

By: Judy Mathias
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Editor's Note

This survey on the “Impact of COVID-19 on healthcare associated infections” provides a snapshot of how resource diversion for the COVID-19 is affecting the infection prevention community.

Of 220 respondents, 79.1% said they were spending more than 75% of their time on COVID-19 response efforts and another 13.2% said they were spending more than 50% to 75% of their time on those efforts.


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The potential impacts of the diversion of traditional infection prevention resources to focus on COVID-19 are numerous, the researchers say, and include:

  • surveillance efforts may be compromised leading to compromised case identification
  • process measure data collection may be compromised (eg, compliance with hand hygiene, chlorhexidine bathing)
  • mitigation efforts are likely to be affected, and in the absence of real-time HAI surveillance and provider and unit feedback, an increase in HAIs is likely
  • the diversion of personal protective equipment (PPE) and the recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to stop using isolations gowns for endemic pathogens such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and vancomycin-resistant Enterococci may lead to more cross transmission and HAIs.

Health systems should consider creative ways to support and bolster their infection prevention programs during the COVID-19 pandemic, the authors say.

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