Blog | Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Still beating that dead horse, contact precautions edition

Regular readers know that we’ve long been posting about the unintended adverse consequences of contact precautions, most recently with Mike Edmond, MD, FACP’s post on the added associated costs.

A research letter was published online in JAMA Internal Medicine, reporting results of a time-motion study of interns (using RFID badges) to compare time spent with isolated versus non-isolated patients. You guessed it, the interns visited the isolated patients less often and for shorter periods of time.

To quote the authors, “[these] results support a growing body of literature suggesting that contact precautions may impede patient care”. We are long overdue for a rethinking of our use of contact precautions. I’ll end with another quote from the authors, one that nicely sums up the take-home message:

“Further research is needed, both to better define the patient population for whom the benefits of contact isolation outweigh the risks and to develop strategies to ameliorate those risks for those who must be placed into isolation.”

Daniel J. Diekema, MD, FACP, practices infectious diseases, clinical microbiology, and hospital epidemiology in Iowa City, Iowa, splitting time between seeing patients with infectious diseases, diagnosing infections in the microbiology laboratory, and trying to prevent infections in the hospital. This post originally appeared at the blog Controversies in Hospital Infection Prevention.