Email intervention drives down superbug rates

Weekly emails from the medical director of infection control to hospital leaders helped a 1,500-bed Florida hospital halt the spread of a superbug, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Infection Control.

Before the email intervention, the hospital reported endemic rates of Acinetobacter baumannii for nearly two decades. Once the director started sending weekly emails, however, transmission rates fell 63 percent, according to L. Silvia Munoz-Price, M.D., of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, and colleagues. Researchers analyzed hospital data from January 2010 through June 2013 and found that cases of carbapenem-resistant A. baumanii fell from 5.13 per 10,000 patient days in 2010-2011 to 1.93 in 2012-2013.

Regular emails not only informed the C-suite about the number and placement of new infections, they also briefed leaders on additional initiatives to improve infection control and hand hygiene, according to the study authors. "Additionally, these communications advised the hospital and each ICU's [intensive care unit] leaders about the infection control data and provided action plans based on the findings," the authors stated.

These additional measures included:

  • ICU patient screenings upon admission and weekly thereafter

  • separation and isolation of A. baumanii patients

  • hand-hygiene interventions

  • monthly multidisciplinary meetings on implementing the interventions

  • weekly sampling of hospital surfaces to assess cleanliness

  • observation of shared objects moving from patient to patient

"This is the first study to examine the effect of mass electronic dissemination of results from a bundle of interventions," the authors stated. "Weekly electronic communications were associated with a striking decrease in the rate of new acquisitions of A. baumannii at our institution probably because of a combination of education, communication, feedback and peer pressure."

A 2013 study found that superbugs in hospitals can cause a domino effect, with an increase in one hospital potentially causing an average 2.8 percent increase at every other hospital in that county, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

To learn more:
- here's the study abstract