Improved tuberculosis infection control practices in Maryland acute care hospitals

E P Fuss, E Israel, N Baruch, M C Roghmann
American Journal of Infection Control 2000, 28 (2): 133-7

BACKGROUND: In 1992 and 1993, the Maryland Hospital Association and the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene conducted 2 surveys of tuberculosis prevention practices in Maryland hospitals that showed poor compliance with the 1990 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's guidelines for preventing transmission of tuberculosis in health care facilities.

OBJECTIVE: The objective of this study was to assess compliance in 1997 with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's guidelines in Maryland acute care hospitals.

METHODS: A written questionnaire with 3 components-Infection Control, Employee Health, and Microbiology Laboratory-was mailed to 56 Maryland acute care hospitals.

RESULTS: Seventy-three percent of the surveys were returned. One hundred percent of responding hospitals with tuberculosis isolation rooms reported negative pressure ventilation, 6 air exchanges per hour, and air exhausted to the outside or through high-efficiency particulate air filters. One hundred percent of the responding hospitals reported providing National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health-approved respiratory protection for health care workers; this compared with 24% in 1992 (P <.01). One hundred percent of the responding hospitals reported performing at least annual tuberculin skin testing; this compared with 50% in 1992 (P <. 01).

CONCLUSIONS: The survey results demonstrate excellent compliance with the 1994 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations for tuberculosis control in Maryland acute care hospitals, even in those facilities determined to be at minimal to low risk for tuberculosis exposure. The proposed Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations are unlikely to further reduce the risk of tuberculosis exposure to health care workers in Maryland acute care hospitals.

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