Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The Collateral (Horizontal) Benefits of a Vertical Infection Prevention Intervention

Horizontal infection control programs, as summarized here, employ evidence based strategies (hand hygiene, CHG bathing, checklists etc) to decrease the risk of infection from all pathogens transmitted by the same and most common mechanism: contact. This is the backbone of our very successful hospital infection prevention program at VCU Health.

Here is an article in National Geographic summarizing an MRSA infection prevention initiative at Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals featuring my esteemed colleague Eli Perencevich.

The goal was to reduce MRSA, but 'collateral benefit' on other pathogens was observed. Kudos to them.

The interventions were multiple, including MRSA screening/isolation, emphasis on HH and expansion of the infection control staff.  Although MRSA was the target, investments made in the infection prevention platform resembled a horizontal infection prevention program.

In the case of the VA, much of the control MRSA initiative was from a top-down mandate.

In most cases, however, why not start with the horizontal approach first, then target problem pathogens afterwards? 

Reducing infections, broadly, is the overarching goal.