Blog | Tuesday, May 20, 2014

QD: News Every Day--Interns spend less time with patients in isolation rooms

Patients in isolation rooms may feel a little more lonely, as internal medicine interns spent less time with them than other patients, a study found.

To measure differences in time spent with patients in contact isolation rooms compared with those in nonisolation rooms, researchers used tracking devices attached to hospital identification badges to collect continuous real-time data on the location of 15 internal medicine interns from October through December, 2012.

Results appeared in a Research Letter at JAMA Internal Medicine.

Interns visited isolated patients less often (2.3 visits per day compared with 2.5 visits per day, P<0.001) and spent less time per visit with isolated patients (2.2 minutes per visit compared with 2.8 minutes per visit, P<0.001), the study found. Interns spent an average of 5.2 minutes per day with each of their isolated patients, compared with 6.9 minutes per day with each of their nonisolated patients (P<0.001).

“We were surprised to discover that interns spend little time in direct contact with their patients, and even less time with those patients in contact isolation,” wrote corresponding author Cody N. Dashiell-Earp, MD, ACP Resident/Fellow Member, and co-authors. “[T]he fact that trainees spend less time with isolated patients might explain why these patients experience more adverse events and have lower overall satisfaction, particularly if senior residents and attending physicians exhibit the same behavior.”

Infection prevention strategies should minimize the barrier between physicians and patients, including hand hygiene, antimicrobial stewardship, and universal decolonization, because these methods may be more effective at reducing the spread of resistant organisms and less disruptive to patients, the authors concluded.