Healthcare facilities looking to establish precautions for visitors of patients with infectious diseases have been provided with fresh guidance by Infectious diseases experts .
The guidance seeks to reduce the potential for healthcare visitors in spreading dangerous bacteria within the healthcare facility and community.
"Visitors have initiated or been involved in healthcare-associated infection outbreaks, but it is unknown to what extent this occurs in the transmission of bacteria in healthcare facilities," said L. Silvia Munoz-Price, lead author of the guidance.
"The guidance is intended to strike a balance between visitor and patient safety, the potential for pathogen spread in hospitals, the psycho-social implications of isolation and the feasibility of enforcement," Price pointed out.
The SHEA (Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America) Guidelines Committee developed the recommendations. Some of these recommendations include:
Since not all pathogens present the same risk of transmission to and via visitors, the guidance reflects the protections that should be taken for distinct pathogens.
In areas where they are endemic, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE) do not require contact isolation precautions for visitors given their prevalence in the community.
Visitors of patients with gram-negative organisms, such as carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) and Klebsiella pnemoniae carbapenemase (KPC), should follow contact precautions to help prevent transference of pathogens to guests.
Visitors to rooms with droplet (i.e., pertussis) or airborne precautions (i.e., tuberculosis) should use surgical masks.
The authors recommend further research on the role of visitors in the transmission of healthcare-associated infections to better define the risk and preventive measures necessary.
The recommendations are published online in the journal Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology.