Droplet Precautions a Possible Alternative to Single-Room Isolation for Respiratory Viral Infections

The guideline-driven and widely implemented single room isolation strategy for respiratory viral infections (RVI) such as influenza or respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) can lead to a shortage of available hospital beds. Birrer, et al. (2022) discuss their experience with the introduction of droplet precautions on-site (DroPS) as a possible alternative.

During the 2018/19 influenza season the researchers introduced DroPS on several wards of a single tertiary care center, while other wards maintained the traditional single room isolation strategy. On a daily basis, the researchers evaluated patients for the development of respiratory symptoms and screened those with a clinical diagnosis of hospital-acquired respiratory viral infection (HARVI) for influenza/RSV by molecular rapid test. If negative, it was followed by a multiplex respiratory virus PCR. They report the concept of DroPS, the feasibility of the strategy and the rate of microbiologically confirmed HARVI with influenza or RSV infection on the DroPS wards compared to wards using the traditional single room isolation strategy.

The researchers evaluated all hospitalized patients at risk for a HARVI, 741 (72%) on the DroPS wards and 293 (28%) on the regular wards. The hospital-acquired infection rate with influenza or RSV was 2/741 (0.3%; 1× influenza A, 1× RSV) on the DroPS wards and 2/293 (0.7%; 2× influenza A) on the regular wards.

Droplet precautions on-site (DroPS) may be a simple and potentially resource-saving alternative to the standard single room isolation strategy for respiratory viral infections. Further studies in a larger clinical context are needed to document its safety.

Reference: Birrer M, et al. Droplet precautions on-site (DroPS) during the influenza season 2018/2019: a possible alternative to single room isolation for respiratory viral infections. Antimicrobial Resistance & Infection Control. Vol. 11, article number 2. 2022.