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Characteristics of biosecurity and infection control programs at veterinary teaching hospitals

Katharine M. Benedict BS1, Paul S. Morley DVM, PhD, DACVIM2, and David C. Van Metre DVM, DACVIM3
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  • 1 Animal Population Health Institute, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523-678.
  • | 2 Animal Population Health Institute, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523-678.
  • | 3 Animal Population Health Institute, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523-678.

Abstract

Objective—To characterize biosecurity and infection control practices at veterinary teaching hospitals located at institutions accredited by the AVMA.

Design—Cross-sectional survey.

Population—50 biosecurity experts at 38 veterinary teaching hospitals.

Procedures—Telephone interviews were conducted between July 2006 and July 2007, and questions were asked regarding policies for hygiene, surveillance, patient contact, education, and awareness. Respondents were also asked their opinion regarding the rigor of their programs.

Results—31 of 38 (82%) hospitals reported outbreaks of nosocomial infection during the 5 years prior to the interview, 17 (45%) reported > 1 outbreak, 22 (58%) had restricted patient admissions to aid mitigation, and 12 (32%) had completely closed sections of the facility to control disease spread. Nineteen (50%) hospitals reported that zoonotic infections had occurred during the 2 years prior to the interview. Only 16 (42%) hospitals required personnel to complete a biosecurity training program, but 20 of the 50 (40%) respondents indicated that they believed their hospitals ranked among the top 10% in regard to rigor of infection control efforts.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results suggested that differences existed among infection control programs at these institutions. Perceptions of experts regarding program rigor appeared to be skewed, possibly because of a lack of published data characterizing programs at other institutions. Results may provide a stimulus for hospital administrators to better optimize biosecurity and infection control programs at their hospitals and thereby optimize patient care.

Abstract

Objective—To characterize biosecurity and infection control practices at veterinary teaching hospitals located at institutions accredited by the AVMA.

Design—Cross-sectional survey.

Population—50 biosecurity experts at 38 veterinary teaching hospitals.

Procedures—Telephone interviews were conducted between July 2006 and July 2007, and questions were asked regarding policies for hygiene, surveillance, patient contact, education, and awareness. Respondents were also asked their opinion regarding the rigor of their programs.

Results—31 of 38 (82%) hospitals reported outbreaks of nosocomial infection during the 5 years prior to the interview, 17 (45%) reported > 1 outbreak, 22 (58%) had restricted patient admissions to aid mitigation, and 12 (32%) had completely closed sections of the facility to control disease spread. Nineteen (50%) hospitals reported that zoonotic infections had occurred during the 2 years prior to the interview. Only 16 (42%) hospitals required personnel to complete a biosecurity training program, but 20 of the 50 (40%) respondents indicated that they believed their hospitals ranked among the top 10% in regard to rigor of infection control efforts.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results suggested that differences existed among infection control programs at these institutions. Perceptions of experts regarding program rigor appeared to be skewed, possibly because of a lack of published data characterizing programs at other institutions. Results may provide a stimulus for hospital administrators to better optimize biosecurity and infection control programs at their hospitals and thereby optimize patient care.

Contributor Notes

Presented in part at the Conference of Research Workers in Animal Disease, Chicago, December 2006; the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences Research Day, Fort Collins, Colo, February 2007; and the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine Forum, Seattle, June 2007.

The authors thank Audrey Ruple for assistance with data collection.

Address correspondence to Dr. Morley.