Laboratory-based management of microbiological alerts: effects of an automated system on the surveillance and treatment of nosocomial infections in an oncology hospital

31 Mar 2009
R Passerini, R Biffi, D Riggio, S Pozzi, M Sandri

Background: Prevention and surveillance programs are key to contain Nosocomial Infections (Nis). At the European Institute of Oncology, surveillance based on ex-post data collection has been done since the inception of hospital activity; laboratory-based surveillance of microbiological alert was not standardized. This study describes the issues related to the recent introduction into the hospital routine of a laboratory-based automated surveillance system and its clinical impact on monitoring and treatment of Nis.

Methods: An interdisciplinary team defined the alerts and the actions to be taken in response; recipients of the alert messages were identified and software was programmed. Program features were created so their employment would generate a prompt notification of clinically critical results. After a training period, the program was introduced in the hospital routine.

Results: There were a total of 150 generated alerts; the main alert related to microorganisms requiring prompt patient isolation and/or public notification. Clinical use of the program was relevant in detection and immediate notification of Cytomegalovirus active infection in stem cell recipients and central venous catheter related candidemia: the prompt administration of adequate treatment was possible hours earlier compared to the previous approach.

Conclusions: A laboratory-based automated surveillance system is effective in facilitating the management of Nis; its clinical employment also leads to important clinical advantages in patient care.

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