Use of Contact Precautions in Emergency Departments Varies, AHRQ Study Finds
In a survey of 301 emergency departments (EDs) in 49 states, AHRQ-funded researchers found that policies on the use of contact precautions to prevent the spread of antimicrobial resistant organisms and Clostridium difficile varied greatly, according to a study published online February 3 in Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology. The researchers found that, while most EDs require their staff to use contact precautions (wearing a gown and gloves) when treating patients suspected of having an infection caused by a specific organism, less than half of EDs require such contact precautions when treating patients with symptoms often caused by those organisms. For example, 79 percent of EDs required isolation (including contact precautions) when treating patients with suspected methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), but only 49 percent required contact precautions for all patients with purulent skin infections, which are predominantly caused by community-acquired MRSA. The authors also found that most EDs had not participated in quality improvement projects related to decreasing the spread of these organisms. The authors suggest, based on the variations they observed, that ED organizations and leaders enact policies on the use of contact precautions in the ED. Select to access anabstract of the study’s findings.