A comparison of infection control program resources, activities, and antibiotic resistant organism rates in Canadian acute care hospitals in 1999 and 2005: pre- and post-severe acute respiratory syndrome

Dick E Zoutman, B Douglas Ford
American Journal of Infection Control 2008, 36 (10): 711-7

BACKGROUND: The Resources for Infection Control in Hospitals (RICH) project assessed infection control programs and rates of antibiotic-resistant organisms (AROs) in Canadian acute care hospitals in 1999. In the meantime, the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak and the concern over pandemic influenza have stimulated considerable government and health care institutional efforts to improve infection control systems in Canada.

METHODS: In 2006, a version of the RICH survey similar to the original RICH instrument was mailed to infection control programs in all Canadian acute care hospitals with 80 or more beds. We used chi(2), analysis of variance, and analysis of covariance analyses to test for differences between the 1999 and 2005 samples for infection control program components and ARO rates.

RESULTS: 72.3% of Canadian acute care hospitals completed the RICH survey for 1999 and 60.1% for 2005. Hospital size was controlled for in analyses involving AROs and surveillance and control intensity levels. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) rates increased from 1999 to 2005 (F = 9.4, P = .003). In 2005, the mean MRSA rate was 5.2 (standard deviation [SD], 6.1) per 1000 admissions, and, in 1999, it was 2.0 (SD, 2.9). Clostridium difficile-associated diarrhea rates trended up from 1999 to 2005 (F = 2.9, P = .09). In 2005, the mean Clostridium difficile-associated diarrhea rate was 4.7 (SD, 4.3), and, in 1999, it was 3.8 (SD, 4.3). The proportion of hospitals that reported having new nosocomial vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE) cases was greater in 2005 than in 1999 (chi(2) = 10.5, P = .001). In 1999, 34.5% (40/116) of hospitals reported having new nosocomial VRE cases, and, in 2005, 61.0% (64/105) reported new cases. Surveillance intensity index scores increased from a mean of 61.7 (SD, 18.5) in 1999 to 68.1 (SD, 15.4) in 2005 (F = 4.1, P = .04). Control intensity index scores trended upward slightly from a mean of 60.8 (SD, 14.6) in 1999 to 64.1 (SD, 12.2) in 2005 (F = 3.2, P = .07). Infection control professionals (ICP) full-time equivalents (FTEs) per 100 beds increased from a mean of 0.5 (SD, 0.2) in 1999 to 0.8 (SD, 0.3) in 2005 (F = 90.8, P < .0001). However, the proportion of ICPs in hospitals certified by the Certification Board of Infection Control decreased from 53% (SD, 46) in 1999 to 38% (SD, 36) in 2005 (F = 8.7, P = .004).

CONCLUSION: Canadian infection control programs in 2005 continued to fall short of expert recommendations for human resources and surveillance and control activities. Meanwhile, nosocomial MRSA rates more than doubled between 1999 and 2005, and hospitals reporting new nosocomial VRE cases increased 77% over the same period. Although investments have been made toward infection control programs in Canadian acute care hospitals, the rapid rise in ICP positions has not yet translated into marked improvements in surveillance and control activities. In the face of substantial increases in ARO rates in Canada, continued efforts to train ICPs and support hospital infection control programs are necessary.

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