Researchers Report on Provision of Safe Patient Care During the Pandemic Despite Shared Patient Rooms

Füszl, et al. (2022) report that Vienna General Hospital (VGH), a tertiary hospital located in Austria, ran at almost full capacity despite high levels of community SARS-CoV-2 transmission and limited isolation room capacity. To ensure safe patient care, a bundle of infection prevention and control (IPC) measures including universal pre-admission screening and serial SARS-CoV-2 testing during hospitalization was implemented. The researchers evaluated whether testing as part of their IP&C approach was effective in preventing hospital outbreaks during different stages of the pandemic.

In this retrospective single center study, they analyzed the SARS-CoV-2 PCR test results of cases admitted to VGH between a low (15/05/2020–01/08/2020) and a high incidence period (15/09/2020–18/05/2021). Outcomes were the diagnostic yield of (a) admission screening, (b) the yield of serial testing during hospitalization and (c) the occurrence of healthcare-associated COVID-19 (HA-COVID-19) and SARS-CoV-2 related hospital outbreaks.

The admission test positivity rate was 0.2% during the low and 2.3% during the high incidence phase. Regarding test conversions, 0.04% (low incidence phase) and 0.5% (high incidence phase) of initially negative cases converted to a positive test result within 7 days after admission The HA-COVID-19 incidence rate per 100,000 patient days was 1.0 (low incidence phase) and 10.7 (high incidence phase). One COVID-19 outbreak affecting eight patients in total could be potentially ascribed to the non-compliance with our IPC protocol.

The authors say that testing in conjunction with other IP&C measures enabled the safe provision of patient care at a hospital with predominantly shared patient rooms despite high case numbers in the community.

Reference: Füszl A, et al. Provision of safe patient care during the COVID-19 pandemic despite shared patient rooms in a tertiary hospital. Antimicrobial Resistance & Infection Control. Vol. 11, article number 61 (2022).