Cureus. 2021 Mar 1;13(3):e13636. doi: 10.7759/cureus.13636.
Background The need for the implementation of an infection prevention strategy that included patient isolation and a cohorting procedure emerged in our ICU. Yet, isolation, as well as cohorting, were not feasible due to certain barriers associated with a high colonization pressure, open-plan ICU, inadequate bed separation, a limited number of isolation rooms, and nursing shortage. Despite these limitations, we tried to upgrade our ICU's infection prevention efforts by developing the "universal use of contact precautions approach" for infection prevention and control for all the patients with and without multidrug-resistant organisms (MDROs), cohorting, and single room isolation. The study aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of our approach. Methods A prospective cohort study using surveillance screening cultures for Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and MDROs for a period of 18 weeks from October 1, 2018, to January 31, 2019. The main purpose of the approach was to isolate all patients (regardless of their MDRO/MRSA status) in their own bed space as if they were in an isolation room for the entire duration of their ICU hospitalization, in such a way as to prevent horizontal transmission of infection (infection acquisition) in our open-plan ICU. Results Seventy-eight patients were admitted to our ICU for a total of 942 patient-days; a total of 432 swabs were collected during the study period. A total of 17 (21.8%) patients were admitted with a pre-existing infection while two (2.5%) patients acquired an infection during their ICU stay (one with Acinetobacter baumannii andone with Pseudomonas aeruginosa; 1.28 acquisition per 1000 patient-days). No transmission was documented for Klebsiella pneumoniae, Enterococcus faecalis, and Staphylococcus aureus. Conclusions Our MDRO acquisition rates suggested that the implementation of our infection control strategy potentially prevents the horizontal transmission of pathogens in an open-plan ICU, despite the high colonization pressure and the lack of isolation and cohorting procedures.