Conference Coverage

Review protocols, follow reprocessing guidelines to cut device-related HAIs



– Ongoing vigilance regarding the role of medical devices in health care–associated infections (HAIs) and transmission of antimicrobial-resistant pathogen is needed, according to Isaac Benowitz, MD, of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion (DHQP).

CDC/ Margaret M. Williams; Janice Haney Carr

Mycobacterium fortuitum bacteria.

A review of records from the DHQP, which investigates and responds to infections and related adverse events in health care settings upon invitation, showed that in 2017 environmental pathogens were most often the triggers for these investigations, said Dr. Benowitz, a medical epidemiologist.

He reviewed internal records for consultations with state and local health departments involving medical devices and collected data on health care setting, pathogen, investigation findings including possible exposure or transmission, and public health actions.

Of 285 consultations, 48 involved a specific medical device or general medical device reprocessing, he said, noting that most of those 48 were in an acute care hospital (63%) or clinic (19%).

“The most frequent pathogens noted in these consultations were nontuberculous mycobacteria at 21%, Candida species ... at 10%, and Burkholderia species ... at 8%,” he said, noting that a wide variety of devices were implicated.

In the inpatient setting these devices included ventilators, dialysis machines, breast pumps, central lines, and respiratory therapy equipment. In the outpatient setting they included glucometers and opthalmic equipment.

“In many settings we saw issues with endoscopes, including duodenoscopes, but also bronchoscopes,” he added.

Actions taken as part of the investigations included medical device recalls, improved infection control and reprocessing procedures, and patient notification, education, guidance, testing, and treatment.

In some cases there was disciplinary action or oversight for health care professionals, he added.

Investigations identified medical devices contaminated in manufacturing, incorrect reprocessing of endoscopes or ventilators, and inappropriate medical device use or reuse, he said.

A number of lessons can be learned from these and other investigations, he added.

“First, devices can be reservoirs and transmission vectors for health care–associated infections. Second, health care facilities, health care facility staff, and public health partners should take opportunities to review protocols and the practices within those protocol,” he said. “These are opportunities to strengthen infection control practices even in the absence of documented transmission.”

In fact, in most of the investigations he discussed, transmission was rarely confirmed to be associated with a medical device. This was largely because of a lack of “epidemiological rigor,” but associations between health care–associated infections and medical devices “are still quite meaningful and often actionable,” he said.

Dr. Benowitz stressed the importance of engaging public health partners to discuss findings and actions, explaining that “what may look like a single-facility issue may have a very different perspective when you realize that there’s a similar issue at another facility elsewhere.”

“For all devices, it’s important to ensure adherence to the device reprocessing guidelines, “ he added, noting that these include a combination of facility protocols, manufacturer instructions for use, and guidance from organizations like the Food and Drug Administration and the CDC.

Dr. Benowitz reported having no disclosures.

SOURCE: Benowitz I et al. ICEID 2018, Oral Abstract Presentation E2.

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