Outbreak Investigation, Public Health and Health Policy
Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) infections are difficult to treat and pose a significant threat to public health. In July 2018, an infection preventionist (IP) notified Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (LACDPH) of eight cases of healthcare-onset carbapenem-resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae (CRKP) among residents of a 54-bed long term acute care facility (LTAC). LACDPH initiated an investigation to identify risks for infection and disrupt transmission.
A case was defined as a LTAC patient with laboratory confirmation for CRKP or carbapenemase-producing organism from June 28- August 7, 2018 and no previous CRE history. LACDPH conducted two site visits of the facility to observe infection prevention practices. Medical records, staff training records, and infection prevention audits were reviewed. Facility-wide surveillance cultures were collected on three dates.
The first facility-wide screening yielded 13 additional cases; no further cases were identified during subsequent screenings. Medical record review found one additional case. A total of 22 cases were identified; overall prevalence was 39%. Site observations revealed missed hand hygiene opportunities, unclear contact precaution signage, and a knowledge deficit among staff regarding CRE and control measures. LACDPH recommended enhanced environmental cleaning, infection control trainings for all staff, hand hygiene and personal protective equipment audits, placing new admissions on contact precautions pending CRE screening results, and the use of an interfacility transfer form upon discharge of all known CRE patients.
We identified a high prevalence of CRE in an LTAC, a setting where patients generally have higher invasive device and antibiotic utilization than other settings. However, the implementation of evidence-based infection prevention practices enabled the facility to stop the spread of infection. Identification and containment of a CRE outbreak in a healthcare facility relies on several factors, including the collaboration of a facility’s IP with the local health department and continuing frontline staff education.