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Concurrent Detection of Bacterial Pathogens in Hospital Roommates

Cohen, Bevin; Spirito, Christopher M.; Liu, Jianfang; Cato, Kenrick D.; Larson, Elaine

doi: 10.1097/NNR.0000000000000316

Background Some nurse-driven interventions have successfully reduced rates of healthcare-associated infections, though incidence remains unacceptably high. Bacterial contamination in patient rooms may be a source of exposure for patients and thus a target for future interventions; however, few studies have investigated the role of the patient room on organism acquisition.

Objectives The purpose of this study was to determine the incidence of concurrent detection of bacterial pathogens among patients sharing a hospital room.

Methods We performed a retrospective network analysis using electronic administrative and clinical data collected from all patients admitted in 2006 through 2012 to four New York City hospitals, totaling 2,065 beds within 183 inpatient units. A computerized algorithm identified concurrent organism detection among roommates, defined as two patients who shared a room on at least 1 day and had a first positive culture for the same organism within 3 days following cohabitation.

Results In total, 741,271 patient admissions were included. The algorithm identified 373 concurrent detection events: 158 (42%) in which the patients’ first positive cultures were drawn after they were no longer sharing a room but within 3 days of cohabitation, 144 (39%) in which the patients’ first positive cultures were drawn while they were still sharing a room but on different days, and 71 (19%) in which the patients’ first positive cultures were drawn while they were sharing a room on the same day.

Discussion Methods to improve environmental decontamination should be included as part of a comprehensive approach to infection prevention in hospitals. Nurses have an important role to play in the planning and implementation of interventions to reduce bioburden in the patient environment.

Bevin Cohen, PhD, MPH, MS, RN, is Associate Research Scientist, Columbia University School of Nursing, New York.

Christopher M. Spirito, BA, is Nuclear Cyber Security Consultant, Idaho National Laboratory, Idaho Falls.

Jianfang Liu, PhD, MAS, is Assistant Professor, and Kenrick D. Cato, PhD, RN, is Assistant Professor, Columbia University School of Nursing, New York.

Elaine Larson, PhD, RN, FAAN, is Associate Dean for Research and Professor of Nursing Research, Columbia University School of Nursing, New York.

Accepted for publication June 4, 2018.

This work was funded by Grant R01NR010822 from the National Institute of Nursing Research, National Institutes of Health (Larson, PI).

The authors have no conflicts of interest to report.

Corresponding author: Bevin Cohen, PhD, MPH, MS, RN, Columbia University School of Nursing, 630 West 168th Street, Mail Code 6, New York, NY 10032 (e-mail:

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