Risk Factors for Nosocomial SARS-CoV-2 Infections in Patients

Factors contributing to the spread of SARS-CoV-2 outside the acute-care hospital setting have been described in detail. However, data concerning risk factors for nosocomial SARS-CoV-2 infections in hospitalized patients remain scarce. To close this research gap and inform targeted measures for the prevention of nosocomial SARS-CoV-2 infections, Aghdassi, et al. (2022) analyzed nosocomial SARS-CoV-2 cases in our hospital during a defined time period.

Data on nosocomial SARS-CoV-2 infections in hospitalized patients that occurred between May 2020 and January 2021 at Charité university hospital in Berlin, Germany, were retrospectively gathered. A SARS-CoV-2 infection was considered nosocomial if the patient was admitted with a negative SARS-CoV-2 reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction test and subsequently tested positive on day five or later. As the incubation period of SARS-CoV-2 can be longer than five days, the researchers defined a subgroup of “definite” nosocomial SARS-CoV-2 cases, with a negative test on admission and a positive test after day 10, for which we conducted a matched case–control study with a one to one ratio of cases and controls. The researchers employed a multivariable logistic regression model to identify factors significantly increasing the likelihood of nosocomial SARS-CoV-2 infections.

A total of 170 patients with a nosocomial SARS-CoV-2 infection were identified. The majority of nosocomial SARS-CoV-2 patients (n = 157, 92%) had been treated at wards that reported an outbreak of nosocomial SARS-CoV-2 cases during their stay or up to 14 days later. For 76 patients with definite nosocomial SARS-CoV-2 infections, controls for the case–control study were matched. For this subgroup, the multivariable logistic regression analysis revealed documented contact to SARS-CoV-2 cases (odds ratio: 23.4 (95% confidence interval: 4.6–117.7)) and presence at a ward that experienced a SARS-CoV-2 outbreak (odds ratio: 15.9 (95% confidence interval: 2.5–100.8)) to be the principal risk factors for nosocomial SARS-CoV-2 infection.

With known contact to SARS-CoV-2 cases and outbreak association revealed as the primary risk factors, the researchers say their findings confirm known causes of SARS-CoV-2 infections and demonstrate that these also apply to the acute care hospital setting. This underscores the importance of rapidly identifying exposed patients and taking adequate preventive measures.

Reference: Aghdassi S, et al. Risk factors for nosocomial SARS-CoV-2 infections in patients: results from a retrospective matched case–control study in a tertiary care university center. Antimicrobial Resistance & Infection Control. Vol. 11, article number 9 (2022).