Author Archives: Brett Mitchell @1healthau

About Brett Mitchell @1healthau

Brett Mitchell @1healthau

Best article for 2018 – #blogoff

Jon Otter and I have been having a ‘blog off’, with the aim of presenting the best infection control paper for 2018 (to date). Below, I put my case forward. You can read Jon’s post here. After you read both blogs and listen to points made via Twitter, we encourage you to vote (for the article I present!). Follow more on Twitter (@1healthau) and #mitchellvsotter via this link. Results will be presented during my social media talk on Monday 1st October (& via Twitter). You can vote using this link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/SL23H6K

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My (Brett Mitchell’s) choice of article

Choosing the best article is always fraught with danger. There are so many great infection control articles in 2018, but for this blog, I have chosen something that impacts everyone working in infection control – contact precautions (CP).  The article – Impact of Discontinuing Contact Precautions for Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus and Vancomycin-Resistant Enterococcus: An Interrupted Time Series Analysis by Bearman et al.

There are three main reasons, why I believe this article is noteworthy:

  1. Advancement of knowledge in a difficult area
  2. Sets foundation for additional studies
  3. The implications for changing practice around contact precautions are profound

What is the article about?

In this single centre quasi experimental study, seven horizontal infection control interventions were evaluated. One of these, was the discontinuation of CP for patients with MRSA and VRE. During the study period, using interrupted time-series analysis, infection rates for MRSA and VRE decreased, in addition to device associated HAIs – following discontinuation of CP. Importantly, compliance with CP was monitored prior to cessation, 94% compliance with CPs hospital wide, from nearly 2700 observations. The authors conclude with the suggestions that the discontinuation of CP for patients infected or colonized with MRSA or VRE, when combined with horizontal infection prevention measures was not associated with an increased incidence of MRSA and VRE device-associated infections. MRSA HAI decreased by 1.3 per 100,000 bed days and VRE HAI decreased by 7.5/100,000 bed days. Not statistically significant, but clinically relevant in the context of no increase or difference.

Advancement of knowledge

Evidence supporting the use of CPs is largely based on observational studies, theory and expert opinion. Undertaking RCTs in infection control is challenging and not always possible, not the least on the topic of evaluating the impact of stopping CPs.  We have seen other work which has tested the value of universal glove and gown use, but limited work on ceasing CPs. This study takes a big step forward, using a robust design. It adds to a small but growing body of evidence investigating the universal application of CP for patients with any MRO.

Sets foundation

Another important aspect of this study, is that it sets the foundation for more work. It appears that no harm was caused as a result of ceasing CPs. This evidence is critical when attempting to seek funds for future studies, convincing a hospital to attempt something similar and obtaining ethical approvals. It was ‘gutsy’ to undertake a study that ceased CP, but the pragmatic and clever approach of bundling this with other horizontal infection control initiative made this palatable, as well as being able to unpick the relative effect of ceasing CP, using interrupted time series. In so doing, the authors have taken this controversial topic forward and established platform for multi-site sites (plus or minus randomisation).

For the record, I am not suggesting we should change practice around CPs yet, nor I am suggesting CP do not work in the prevention transmission of certain organisms. Rather, I am saying we should be open to the idea and support work that helps answer this question one way or another.

Implications

Imagine the implications if CPs were not required for patients with certain organisms. As quoted in a recent paper by Prof Nick GravesBecause you exist in a world of scarce resources, the choices you make have economic consequences”. The implications regarding CPs are significant and include the (reduction) in cost of personal protection equipment to the increased availability of single rooms as a starting point. In addition, think about the time invested in

identifying patients with MROs, placing them in CPs, monitoring compliance and the associated education with staff. The freeing up of resources, where there are finite resources, is critically important and present new opportunities.

The authors are to be congratulated for tackling a vexed issue and opening the door to the next stage. We need more research in infection prevention and control, that tackles the ‘known unknowns’, so we can advance the science of the profession, have practice underpinned by strong evidence and provide optimal patient care. Where else to start, than with evidence around CPs?  Regardless of whether you are clinician, an infection control professional, policy maker or researcher, this article should be of interest to you. Let’s hope more studies can build on this in the near future.

If you are in agreement, don’t forget to vote for this article here

 

The best IPC article of 2018: a blogoff with Brett Mitchell

You can see Jon Otter’s blog and case for the the best infection control article here

 

What product do you use prior to urinary catheter insertion?

There is conflicting evidence and hence variation in practice, on which solution you should use for meatal cleaning prior to urinary catheter insertion. A systematic review demonstrates the variation in evidence.

Which do you use in your hospital or clinical practice?

You can vote using the poll below. The results will form part of the discussion in a talk at the IPS conference and ACIPC conference.

So, which is correct?

Well, we will soon be able to tell you whether chlorhexidine or saline is better (or no difference) at reducing CAUTI and asymptomatic bacteriuria. We have undertaken a RCT in three hospitals, involving hundreds of patients and catheter insertions. The aim is to determine the effectiveness and cost effectiveness of chlorhexidine vs saline. The outcomes are asymptomatic bacteriuria and CAUTI.

Data collection was completed earlier this year and analysis is also nearing completion.

Some preliminary results will be presented at the IPS conference in Glasgow in October and more detailed results at the ACIPC conference in Brisbane and HIS conference in Liverpool (England).

I would like to thank the participating hospitals – Canberra hospital, Sydney Adventist Hospital and Lismore hospital.

More to come on this, so stay tuned. The results, regardless of what they are, will help shape guidelines and clinical practice internationally.

Brett

Researcher team: Prof Brett Mitchell, Dr Oyebola Fasugba, Dr Anne Gardner, Dr Jane Koerner, Prof Peter Collignon, Prof Allen Cheng, Prof Nick Graves, Mrs Vicky Gregory (Project Manager)

Funding: This project is supported a grant from the HCF Foundation, a nationally competitive grant.

References

Fasugba, O., Koerner, J., Mitchell, B. G., & Gardner, A. (2017). Systematic review and meta-analysis of the effectiveness of antiseptic agents for meatal cleaning in the prevention of catheter-associated urinary tract infections. Journal of Hospital Infection, 95(3), 233-242.

Mitchell, B. G., Fasugba, O., Gardner, A., Koerner, J., Collignon, P., Cheng, A. C., … & Gregory, V. (2017). Reducing catheter-associated urinary tract infections in hospitals: study protocol for a multi-site randomised controlled study. BMJ open, 7(11), e018871.
Chicago.

 

Reducing urinary catheter use

One of the ways  to reduce the risk of catheter associated urinary tract infection (CAUTI) is to reduce catheter duration. Evidence has shown the value of stop orders and reminders (to remove the catheter ASAP) at reducing the incidence of CAUTI.

We have finished a RCT  in an Australian hospital, exploring the effect of an electronic reminder, attached to a catheter bag, on reducing catheter duration. We also surveyed nurses and undertook a focus group.

I’m looking forward to presenting results at the IPS conference in Glasgow and ACIPC later in the year in Australia. 

 

Researchers: Mitchell, BG., Fasugba, O., Russo, P., Cheng, A., Northcote, M. (Hannah Rosebrock, Research Officer).

Funding: This study was supported by an Commonwealth government commercialisation grant.

References

Meddings, J., Rogers, M. A., Krein, S. L., Fakih, M. G., Olmsted, R. N., & Saint, S. (2014). Reducing unnecessary urinary catheter use and other strategies to prevent catheter-associated urinary tract infection: an integrative review. BMJ Qual saf, 23(4), 277-289.

Quick insight into ECCMID 2018

After a great few days at ECCMID conference in Madrid, I thought I would give some highlights. There were many good sessions and presentations, but I have picked a few that stood out for me. To set the scene, for those who haven’t been to ECCMID, it is huge. Around 15,000 delegates and 15+ sessions going at any one time. The poster area is the size of a airport hanger. Planning is key.

Petra Gastmeier contributed to many pieces of work at the conference, but on the first day, presented on “Before an outbreak – is complete sanitation of robotic surgical instruments possible?”. She discussed two key outcomes when answering this question. First, is the instrument clean or not; second, does the instrument affects surgical site infection rates. Her talk concluded by with the concept that at present, based on literature, robotics instruments do not appear to increase SSI rates. However, a strong CSSD is required.  Maybe the reasons is that the process includes disinfection and sterilisation. The presentation can be viewed here.

 

John Rossen discussed whole genome sequencing in outbreaks. Challenges and advantanges of WHS were discussed. One issue is the cost and turnaround time. He discussed his work, which involved used WGS to develop a local PCR test – to distinguish outbreak strains from others. This overcomes the cost and timeliness issues. The presentation can be viewed here

 

Jon Otter, always great to listen to, was heavily involved in the conference. If you haven’t seen his blog, make sure you check it out (but don’t forget us). Jon always makes his work available on the blog as well.  I have picked one of Jon’s talks,” Before an outbreak – what to do after first MDR Gram-negatives enter your hospital?”. A great interactive session with live voting. There was variation from the audience, with respect to what products (chlorine or HP) are used for control CPE. A key take home from me, was that cleaning and sinks, are a key issue. There was quite a strong focus on the role of sink in MRGN control at the conference. The presentation can be viewed here.

 

Ben Cooper talking about modelling. Some key things from his talk were – ‘models help us think’. I really like that motto. Time series analysis are good, but poorly analysed. The way of the future is to use models to design high quality RCTs. His presentation can be viewed here.

 

In something close to my heart, given some studies I am involved with, was a talk by Marc Bonton (@MarcBonten) on pragmatic trial designs. Some key takes homes: consider the natural history of the disease. It is easily to find an intervention that works, if the infection rates was trending down anyway. Cluster RCTs are good, but consider selection bias and carry over effects. His presentation can be viewed here.

 

There was a session that had short presentations on current / early research findings. Many topics were covered, from hand dryers to risk factors for predicting ESBL carriers. Sessions topics and presentations are here.  One stand out me, for novelty, was a study that explored norvirus dispersal. It is worth a look.  Norovirus was spilt in a laboratory, then cleaned. Results are very interesting. The presentation by Caroline Lopes Ciofi-Silva is worth seeing as you get a real sense of what they did. I feel for those who cleaned up the norovirus – I wonder if they got sick??

 

There was also an interesting study exploring contact precautions Vs standard precautions, involving 30,000+ patient in 20 non ICUs – to determine any difference in EBSL acquisition. Findings are suggesting no difference, but the key for me, is whether the rooms were single rooms. If so, they would probably would not expect to find any difference. If the ICUs were single rooms, then I think we are none the wiser – especially as most hospitals are not 100% single rooms. If there were shared rooms, this may be the catalyst to rethink contact precautions.

 

There was also a great “Year in review” for infection control. I could never do this justice and it is worth seeing the presentations. Hilary Humphreys presented first and went through a mountain of papers. Looking forward to hearing Hilary again at ACIPC 2018 in Brisbane.

 

There is plenty I have missed. You can use the ECCMID live website to find and view other presentations. I also tweeted about other presentations. Speaking of Twitter, there were some great interactions on Twitter at the conference, including those who were not present. It is a great way to find out they key discussion points at conferences.

 

 

 

 

Infection, prevention & control and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People.

The Snake, the Staff and the Rainbow Serpent : A Call to ‘Fill the Gap’ in research relating to infection, prevention and control and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People.

(Written by Victoria Gregory)1

 

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are the oldest surviving culture in the world, yet they will live approximately 10 years less than other Australians. Some contributing factors include indigenous people are at higher risk for emerging infectious diseases compared to other populations (Butler et al 2001). Examples of infectious diseases include respiratory tract infections, infections with antimicrobial-resistant organisms, and bacteremia and meningitis caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae, zoonotic diseases, viral hepatitis, Helicobacter pylori and respiratory syncytial virus infections, diseases caused by Group A and B streptococcus, tuberculosis, Haemophilus influenzae type b, and Neisseria meningitides (Butler et al 2001).

Here are some specific examples:

  • According to data from ‘healthinfonet’ between 2009 and 2013 tuberculosis notifications were 11 times higher for Indigenous people than for Australian born non-Indigenous people.
  • In 2014-15, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were three times more likely that non-indigenous people to be admitted to hospital for influenza and pneumonia.
  • In 2014, there were 170 cases of invasive meningococcal disease notified in Australia with 21 cases (12%) identified as Aboriginal; an increase from 2013 where 13 cases (8.7%) were identified as Aboriginal and one identified as Torres Strait Islander (0.7%).
  • In 2015, hepatitis C notifications were five times higher for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people than for non-Indigenous people and the rate of HIV diagnosis was just over twice as high for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people than non-Indigenous people. Notification rates for gonorrhoea were also 10 times higher for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people than for non-Indigenous people. For syphilis, notification rates were six times higher for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people than for non-Indigenous people. For chlamydia, notification rates were three times higher for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people than for non-Indigenous people.
  • Skin infections are also common in Aboriginal and Torres strait Islander Communities (The Lowitja Institute).

These data paint a real and bleak picture, but there are many success stories, including:

  • An initiative by Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation group in 2007 which reported on successful Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health projects, such as:
    • ‘Tune into your health: Nunkawarrin Yunti Aboriginal Health Service’ where young people developed lyrics and songs about health issues affecting their community, a song called ‘It’s in your blood’ increased knowledge and awareness of Hepatitis C.
    • ‘Keeping safe with a snake: Marie Stropes International Australia’ an initiative raising awareness of sexual health.
    • ‘Mooditj: Sexual health and positive life skills’ an initiative by the Family Planning Association of Western Australia.
    • Healthworkforce Project and the Shalom Gamarada Ngiyani Yana Residential Scholarship program which has increased the numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students studying medicine and health at UNSW.
  • The implementation of the nationally funded Hib disease vaccination in 1993 which resulted in decrease of notifications of invasive Hib disease by more than 95%.
  • The painting above, ‘Healthcare in the Western Desert’ was created as part of an innovative project building mutual trust and respect involving Aboriginal artists from the Wankatjunka, Kakutja and Walpirri language groups and second year medical students from the University of Notre Dame during the students’ Remote Area Health Placement in the Kimberly. It highlights the 3 ‘snake and staff’ images representing the medical profession as well as symbols depicting women and children from the local communities and coloured squares representing the medical clinics and a number of circular jila (waterholes). The act of painting together transcended cultural differences and led to an evolution of knowledge and understanding for all participants.

Indigenous communities are at high risk for many infectious diseases, but there is limited research specifically relating to Indigenous health in relation to infection, prevention and control in Australia. Culturally appropriate research and ‘bottom-up’ prevention and control strategies, as well as long term commitment to their implementation is urgently required. It is our responsibility to mainstream Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander equality in all the valuable work that we do in the infection, prevention and control sphere. This blog is a reminder of the alarming statistics around infections and a call to work on closing the gap in health outcomes in Australia.

This blog was written by Victoria Gregory.

References

  1. Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation. antar.org.au
  2. Closing the Gap Prime Minister’s Report 2017. Closing the gap.pmc.gov.au
  3. Australian Indigenous HealthInfonet.http://healthinfonet.ecu.edu.au/ Retrieved 29.11.17
  4.  Butler, J. C., Crengle, S., Cheek, J. E., Leach, A. J., Lennon, D., O’Brien, K. L., & Santosham, M. (2001). Emerging infectious diseases among indigenous peoples. Emerging infectious diseases, 7(3 Suppl), 554.
  5. The Lowitja Institute. http://www.crcah.org.au/search/site/infection
  6. The University of Notre Dame, Australia. http://www.nd.edu.au/news/media-releases/2017/077

 

 

 

The Cerberus of science – dealing with ethics committees

We asked a colleage, Hannah Rosebrock, to write a blog for us, thank you Hannah.

In Greek mythology, Cerberus guards the gate of the underworld to prevent the dead from leaving. In social and clinical science, this role is fulfilled by ethics committees who stand as guardian between researchers and Cerberusparticipants and prevent the latter to be exploited by the former for the sake of science. The role of the Cerberus is a necessary one – although not very flattering, Cerberus is depicted as a three-headed beast. In the context of ethics committees, its three heads are called bureaucracy, officialdom and inefficiency.

According to the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) there are more than 200 HRECs operating in organisations and institutions throughout Australia (find a list of human Research Ethics Committees registered with NHMRC here). Although all HRECs base their decisions on the same principles deprived from the same National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research, every HREC has its own application procedures, forms and processes. Further, gaining approval from one ethics committee is no vouch for approval from another ethics committee.

This lack of standardisation specifically affects multi-site projects which led to the founding of the National Mutual Acceptance Scheme (NMA) in 2013. Under the NMA scheme, multi-site research projects do not have to gain ethics approval from every site the project is conducted at but only once, from a NMA certified HREC. As of August 2017 the scope of the NMA scheme covers all human research conducted at a public health organisation in Queensland, New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory, Victoria, South Australia, and – the latest addition to the scheme – Western Australia. Note: Northern Territory, Tasmania, and private health organisations are not included in the NMA scheme. Still, you might be tempted to think, that the NMA scheme has de-bureaucratised the ethics application process, and to some extent, this is true. There is certainly less duplication (if you don’t count private health organisations, Northern Territory and Tasmania). However, researchers are still fighting with a lack of standardisation, as every state has multiple NMA certified HRECs[1] and application procedures vary between and within states. This multitude in ethics committees, applications processes and forms, seems unnecessarily confusing, given that they are all assessed and certified by the same body (the NHMRC) for their compliance with the same criteria based on the same National Statement of Responsible Conduct in Human Research.

Independent of the HREC approval, researchers have to seek approval from the relevant Research Governance office (RGO) for each site the project is conducted at. There is no such thing as a mutual acceptance scheme for research governance approval, every site has its own assessing criteria for determining the site’s suitability for conducting a given research project. This adds to the generally labour-some and tedious process of gaining ethics approval.  In terms, this uses resources, and most commonly tax payer funded resources. In one Australian study, the cost of obtaining ethics and relevant approvals was $348,000 or 38% of study budget.

Applications for HREC approval are often no less than 63 pages; applications for Research Governance approval encompass about 23 pages – exclusive the extensive supporting documentation required, which can be up to another 150+ pages. Applications to both, HREC and RGO’s vary, with some still requiring submission in hardcopy by snail-mail, (additionally to email, USB and online forms) and will only be assessed, once received in hardcopy. This method is unnecessarily prone to error. To simplify, you must take steps away, rather than adding additional steps. The entire process is so focussed on detail that researchers, as well as assessing HREC and RGO officials can’t see the wood for the trees anymore. So much information is requested that even low-risk research projects that involve none to minimal involvement with participants, and thus hardly justify the use of the term ‘participants’, seem to turn into a second Stanford prison experiment throughout the process.

 

[1] Queensland has 7 NMA certified HRECs, New South Wales has 11, Victoria has 7, South Australia has 5 and Western Australia has 3 (Australian Capital Territory has 1). Find a full list here.